Beta Test was formed in 2011 by Douglas Laustsen, Steve Lakawicz, and Ellis Jasenovic. Their goal was to create a multifaceted chamber ensemble that performed music with a geeky flavor. Music that fell under this description included classic video game tracks, awesome television and film scores, and works from the classical and contemporary repertoire that resonated in some way with geekdom. The group’s first performance was on May 6, 2011 at Philadelphia’s now defunct Bookspace. Since then, Beta Test has performed throughout Philadelphia and been featured on showcases by LocalArtsLive and at NerdNite Philadelphia.
The group has performed new works written for them by composers Melissa Dunphy and Nat Evans. They’ve transcribed and performed Schubert, Gesualdo, and Gabrieli. Television and movie transcriptions have included Doctor Who, Beetlejuice, and Firefly. They have arranged and performed music from many video games, including the Mega Man series, Sonic the Hedgehog, Castlevania, Super Mario Land, and many more.
In addition to performing their own arrangements and pieces, Beta Test curates a monthly series of music at Dalet Art Gallery. They aim to feature musicians from Philadelphia and nearby cities who perform music that responds to the art work featured at the gallery.