Archive | April, 2011

From The Bizarre Ashes: Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy

3 Apr

Hello Readers,

A few hours ago I got home from day 2 of Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy. For those of you who have never heard of Distant Worlds, it is a touring group that includes composer Nobuo Uematsu and conductor Arnie Roth in addition to a decent sized orchestra that plays music from all the Final Fantasy games (okay over the course of the two days they did not play anything from Final Fantasy IV, but there is a song on one of the CD from Final Fantasy IV).

Skipping the more irrelevant stuff that happened on day 1, the story begins with me and a friend, Jenny, waiting for another friend, Chris (Camu) outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We got our tickets, got to our seats (in the orchestra section off the center aisle about 15 rows from the stage). From there we got a good view of not only the stage (and the musicians) but also the screen above the stage. The show began and Roth introduced Uematsu, who sat in the audience for most of the performance. Not going into too much detail the first day unfolded as such:

• FF VII: Prelude
• FFVIII: Liberi Fatali
• FFXI: Memoro de la Stono – Distant Worlds
• FF VII: J-E-N-O-V-A
• FF VIII: Fisherman’s Horizon
• the American premiere of FF XIV: Answers, featuring Susan Calloway
• FFX: To Zanarkand
• FFVI: Terra’s Theme
• FFXII: Kiss Me Goodbye with Susan Calloway
• FFV: Clash on the Big Bridge
• FFVII: Opening – Bombing Mission
• FFVIII: Don’t Be Afraid

Now bear in mind that I am positive that this is not the order of the songs as they were performed and the list itself is incomplete (for some reason it does not mention Man With the Machine Gun from Final Fantasy VIII, one of the songs fromFinal Fantasy XIV or the Chocobo music that was performed (the beginning was the Chocobo theme from Final Fantasy XIV which transitioned to Swing de Chocobo from Final Fantasy VI. The things that stick out in my mind from this day are the following:

1) The video from the Chocobo themes was cute (and thus funny). However the video somehow did not include clips of Chocobo riding from Final Fantasy IX was a disappointment (my personal Final Fantasy game is Final Fantasy IX).
2) The use of Terra’s Theme at the end was genius (an opportunity to present the credits in the video, an obvious nod to the opening of Final Fantasy VI
3) There were way too many Final Fantasy VIII songs for my liking. I have never even really seen much of Final Fantasy VIII and thus did not understand the video or the context of most of the music. However I love Man With the Machine Gun.
4) To Zanarkand really got to me. I teared up a bit during it.
5) There was no music from my favorite Final Fantasy game (again it is Final Fantasy IX) which was a slight disappointment.
6) The music from the online Final Fantasy games (Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV) were much more boring than the other songs. Although the video was very good and the music from Final Fantasy XIV was apparently the North American premiere of the songs (whether it was the Distant Worlds premiere or the premiere in general is unknown to me).
7) The encore (which was, unsurprisingly, One-Winged Angel) featured Nobuo Uematsu joining the chorus on stage.

After the show ended we made our way up to the top floor where the meet and greet would be held (this was available to those who purchased the orchestra VIP tickets). After standing on line for an hour we got to meet Uematsu and Roth, get their autographs and get a picture with them. I had my Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack signed. Jenny had her Final Fantasy Advent Children Soundtrack signed and Camu had his Final Fantasy VI Original Soundtrack signed. Afterwards we headed over to Dunkin’ Donuts for a little bit and went on our way.

The important part of day 2 started when Jenny arrived at my place with her friends, George, Andy and Ming, we got to the Brookyln Academy of Music. Today we immediately notice cosplayers (which I found quite surprising for an event like this). We saw:
1) At least 1 Cloud
2) A Vincent (who I actually know and met at New York Anime Festival/New York Comic Con this past October)
3) A Sazh
4) An Ultimecia
5) A Sephiroth
6) A Squall
7) Others (I am not entire sure of what I remember)

We got inside and took our seats, this time about 10 rows from the front of the balcony still just off the center aisle. I decided to buy both Distant Worlds CDs and the DVD (I would have bought the T-Shirt too but it appears that they sold out either during day 1 or earlier in day 2). The show began and the line up looked like this:
• FF VII: Aerith’s Theme
• FF V: Dear Friends
• FF IX: Vamo’ alla Flamenco
• FF VI: Opera “Maria and Draco”
• FF IX: A Place to Call Home – Melodies of Life, featuring Susan Calloway
• FFX: To Zanarkand
• FFVI: Terra’s Theme
• FFXII: Kiss Me Goodbye with Susan Calloway
• FFV: Clash on the Big Bridge
• FFVII: Opening – Bombing Mission
• FFVIII: Don’t Be Afraid

Once again the order is off and Man With the Machine Gun, the song that was repeated from Final Fantasy XIV and the Chocobo Theme (Final Fantasy XIV theme transition into Swing de Chocobo from Final Fantasy VI). What I remember from day 2 is:

1) The program was very similar to day 1. Not entirely a bad thing but a little more diversity would have been nice.
2) Melodies of Life was easily one of my favorites of both days.
3) Melodies of Life and Kiss Me Goodbye had me in tears (just a bit, which was strange because I didn’t tear up when Kiss Me Goodbye was played on day 1). The singer, Susan Calloway does a beautiful job singing these songs.
4) To Zanarkand did not make me tear up at all on day 2.
5) Vamo’ Alla Flamenco (which is the song I was looking forward to the most) disappointed me greatly. I don’t know if it was the fact that they brought in a solo guitarist to play with the orchestra but I was not very impressed with this version.
6) It was surprising to see 3 singers, sing in such an operatic way during Opera “Maria and Draco”. Very good though. Showing the conductor working in the game was very amusing to see on the screen.
7) The different song from Final Fantasy XIV was better on day 2 than the one on day 1 (there were 2 songs both days however one was repeated).
8 ) It was interesting to have the audience sing One-Winged Angel. There was no chorus present on day 2. They included the lyrics to the song on the video. Definitely a fun touch and a good way to end the show.
9) My hands and arms really hurt after 2 days on so much clapping.

Afterwards the five of us goofed around outside of BAM and took a few pictures. Once again we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts before heading our separate ways.

These 2 days have been some of the best I’ve had. Distant Worlds was great and I would definitely go again if they play someplace in or near NY. I think what I will remember most about this is not necessarily the music or the video accompaniment. It was the great moments I had with my friends. Everything from seeing cosplayers outside of BAM to having to physically hold down Jenny when it was announced that the audience would sing One-Winged Angel (this was the greatest extreme of my interactions with Jenny, usually I just had to remind her to calm down or tell her something to anger her off slightly). And of course I have to thank Uematsu and Roth for not only putting this together, but also taking the time to have the Meet and Greet. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet them and I hope I get the chance to do so again in the near future. I am fortunate to have walked away with merchandise, autographs, pictures and memories that I will cherish and will stay with me forever.

I hope that I will enjoy the rest of April as much as I have enjoyed the first 2 days. April should be filled with great events and moments. If I had to mention 2 things they would be:

1) Our screening of Evangelion 2.22 near the end of the month (sorry I cannot remember what day; although details should come later).
2) We plan on venturing to Queens College and participate in their Game Day event (I do not know what they are calling it).

So keep on reading. Until next time,

Your secretary,

JojosOBJECTION

Seth Tobias Zeltzer

From left to right: Conductor Arnie Roth, myself holding my freshly autographed Final Fantasy IX Original Soundtrack and Composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Man over 1,500 words. I have no idea how that happened.