Sometimes hard work and noble intentions aren’t enough to bridge the gap between musical genres. It seemed to work between other genres, so why not bring a game soundtrack to a classical music concert stage? Then again, maybe it really was a great idea, but the circumstances made it impossible to pull off.

About three years ago, my old friend, Maestro Gabriel Sakakeeny, contacted me with the idea of arranging a long piece of music using my work from the “Rise Of Nations” and “Rise Of Legends” video games. He suggested that I use a sonata allegro form because it has been used for hundreds of years in classical music. He was the Founder and Music Director of the American Philharmonic – Sonoma County and wanted to include the piece in one of the orchestra’s concerts.

From this challenge, I quickly realized that this could be yet another opportunity to learn and grow and take my career into a whole new direction.

But I was deep in the throes of looking for a paying job to support my family and I had no experience in classical music since college. Despite that, I started wondering if this could be a path that would be rewarding and far-reaching. After all, I have never backed down from trying things that might be considered unconventional. New paths had sometimes paid off for me throughout my career.

But sometimes no matter how hard you try, things just don’t turn out the way you plan. Such is the story of an ill-fated effort to bring my “Rise Of Nations Overture” into the classical music realm.

I spent months in my studio sifting through music, choosing what would be included, editing, arranging and orchestrating and ultimately created the entire 8-minute, 36-second piece inside my computer. It was the philharmonic orchestra arrangement of my work on those games. I had to leave a lot of music out, due to its diverse, ethnic nature and unique instrumentation. But I knew that it would not be practical to bring in soloists playing rare and unique instruments from all over the globe, so the overture focused on the orchestral portion of the scores.

The world premiere performances were to be at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, California on February 19th and 20th, 2011. Then the reality of our undertaking became an issue. The community orchestra did not have the instrumentation required to pull off the piece. So my portion of the concert was cancelled.

Gabriel then booked the piece at a high level, private venue in Monte Rio, California in May of 2011. I was invited as a guest and was treated like royalty. But the concert was scheduled to take place outdoors and a thunderstorm turned the venue into mud. That concert was cancelled, as well, and rescheduling it turned out to be impossible.

While this piece of music has never been performed live, I have learned volumes about my craft. And even when you go into a project with all your heart and soul, things can go wrong.

Everyone in creative fields, whether they admit it or not, has gone through challenges and failures that may not be their own fault. Don’t take it to heart, learn from your mistakes and your successes — and always give it your all.


  1. I just read about some rumors that Rise of Nations might soon be re-released on the popular Steam platform. That would certainly breathe some new life into that game, and more people would get to enjoy your work 🙂 . I hope it turns out to be true!

  2. Wow, I hope that rumor is true. People reach out to me all the time about the Rise Of Nations soundtrack. It would be great for players to reconnect with what turned out to be a really great game. Thanks for letting me know!

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