The music of the Final Fantasy series is music unlike much else you hear when stumbling through a video game world; with everything from grand scale orchestral epics that accompany the largest of battles, to eclectic lyric driven synth-pop tunes that play out as you explore new areas of interest. Last year saw the Distant Worlds concert tour arrive in London for the first time in its history and this year it’s not only coming back, but it’s also heading to Edinburgh.
Square-Enix has announced the full details of the upcoming Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Celebration concerts, revealing just what fans will be able to expect on the tour. Music from the entire 25 years of Final Fantasy franchise will of course be represented and performed in chronological order, which is a nice touch.
There will also be HD video presentations featuring exclusive images and art from Square-Enix themselves, including a special, never-before-seen (well, the people that have made it have probably already seen it, but you know what I mean) video on the History of Final Fantasy. Special Final Fantasy lobby displays will also appear at the concerts, plus an expanded selection of Final Fantasy merchandise that will be available to purchase. Nice!
Unfortunately the celebration concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London is completely sold out now, but tickets are still available for the Distant Worlds concert in Edinburgh on the 4th of November. Square-Enix have also got 75 pairs of tickets up for grabs for an exclusive, members-only gig that promises to be pretty special and will feature the likes of Nobuo Uematsu, Arnie Roth and a little group called the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. For details on how you can enter the competition, make sure you head right here.
Last year we were lucky enough to chat to the concert’s conductor Arnie Roth along with series composer Nobuo Uematsu so we got chatting to Arnie again to see how things have progressed since 2011.
It’s been one year since you stopped by for the London leg of Distant Worlds in 2011, what have you been up to both personally and with the Distant Worlds tour?
Arnie Roth: It has been an exciting and challenging year. We spent a tremendous amount of time preparing for the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Celebration Concerts, working closely with Square Enix and Nobuo Uematsu. We’re now close to the launch of this, and I’m very happy that London will be the first official Celebration concert – especially at Royal Albert Hall! With the very fast sell out of this year’s concert, we wanted to make sure to have another Distant Worlds concert in the UK scheduled, and we are very excited to be performing in Edinburgh on November 4th.
You mentioned during last year’s concert that you had some plans relating to the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy for this year’s shows. What should we expect?
AR: We are announcing two guest artists who will perform with us in the Celebration Concerts in London, Chicago, Tokyo and Osaka: Japanese star Crystal Kay will sing Eyes On Me from Final Fantasy VIII, and Susan Calloway will sing the Main Theme, Answers, from Final Fantasy XIV.
There are also many new scores that we will premiere in London, which we can now announce:
- Final Fantasy IV: Battle With Four Fiends (Nobuo Uematsu)
- Final Fantasy V: Main Theme (Uematsu)
- Final Fantasy VI: The Phantom Forest (Uematsu)
- Final Fantasy XI: Vana’diel March (Naoshi Mizuta)
- Final Fantasy XII: The Dalmasca Estersand (Hitoshi Sakimoto)
Plus we will premiere Nobuo Uematsu’s new version of Final Fantasy VI: Opera “Maria & Draco” and there will of course be classics such as Final FantasyVII: One Winged Angel and Final Fantasy X: Zanarkand. We also have some new ‘surprise’ medleys.
Last year, Nobuo Uematsu was in attendance and this year he returns accompanied by Masashi Hamauzu. What is it like performing the music that both men have produced whilst they’re both in the same room?
AR: Of course it is always a great privilege. Nobuo Uematsu and I have worked closely together now on many concerts, new arrangements, recordings, and we have a very comfortable working relationship. We have also had Masashi Hamauzu attending Distant Worlds concerts previously, and I enjoy having him attending. On November 4th, we will also have Masashi Hamauzu attending our concert in Edinburgh.
Whilst Nobuo Uematsu is perhaps the more famous of the two composers, Masashi Hamauzu has been the man in charge of most recent Final Fantasy music. As music that is much more detailed and advanced than a lot of what Uematsu produced for the likes of the NES and SNES, how tough is it to perform in comparison?
AR: I feel that Masashi Hamauzu’s scores and arranging skills are more stylistically different than Uematsu’s so there’s not so much an issue of complexity. In fact, I often marvel at what Uematsu was able to achieve with the limited 8 bit capability he had at the start of the series.
This year sees you heading up North to Edinburgh, Scotland for the first time in the tour’s history. What brought this about?
AR: It was precipitated by the quick sell out of Royal Albert Hall this year – in just 2 hours! We felt that it was important to have another opportunity for those fans who were not able to get tickets for November 2nd. The combination of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and this venue in Scotland being available were the driving reasons.
Will the Edinburgh concert differ in any way to London’s concert?
AR: It will be a fantastic concert, with Susan Calloway singing many of the most beloved songs, such as FFXII: Kiss Me Goodbye, FFX: Suteki da ne, and FFXI: Distant Worlds. Plus there will be the UK premiere of FFIX: Vamo’alla Flamenco, FFV: Dear Friends, and much more.
To our Scottish readers who might still be on the fence in regards to attending, what would you say to convince them that buying tickets before they’re sold out is the way to go?
AR: This will be the premiere performance of the music of Final Fantasy in Scotland; we do not have another concert scheduled there at this time. We are presenting premieres (above) as well as all the beloved FF classic scores, exciting soloists such as Susan Calloway will be there, and Masashi Hamauzu is attending.
With two UK cities this year, should we expect three in 2013?
Thank you for your time and good luck with everything you do around the world!
So it looks like Arnie Roth is looking forward to coming back to London this year before heading “oop north” to bonnie Scotland for the first time, will you be attending? Don’t forget that although London is completely sold out, you can still buy tickets for the Edinburgh show. If you are interested in heading up to the Edinburgh show, click here and buy a few tickets for yourself and a few chums. We’ll be at the London concert again where we’ll bring you exclusive interviews and features so be sure to check back nearer the concert for further details.