28 July 2013

Distant Worlds in Hong Kong 2013

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Last Sunday I went to attend the premiere of Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy concert for Hong Kong.

Distant Worlds is a symphony music world tour featuring music from the main Final Fantasy series, where the majority of them are composed by Nobuo Uematsu, with the exception of the latest titles as he no longer works in Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft). Final Fantasy's music is well known among video game fans, and I am glad to be able to attend it myself!

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The concert was performed by City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong (CCOHK) and Die Konzertisten Chorale, with Arnie Roth as the conductor. The main composer for a majority of Final Fantasy series Nobuo Uematsu also made guest appearance, where he sat in one of the very front rows.

The picture above was taken just before the concert starts, with lights darkened prior to the conductor's entrance. A large screen is hanged above the orchestra, which plays clips or artwork slideshows when the music of the said Final Fantasy game is performed.

As for the list, I got a bit of help as I have difficulty remembering all the pieces and their orders. If I got any wrong please do let me know!
  • Prelude
  • Liberi Fatali (FFVIII)
  • Victory Fanfare
  • Opening - Bombing Mission (FFVII)
  • To Zanarkand (FFX)
  • Memoro de la Stono ~ Distant Worlds (FFXI)
  • Dear Friends (FFV)
  • Vamo' Alla Flamenco (FFIX)
  • Battle Theme Medley: Clash on the Big Bridge (FFV), Seymour Battle (FFX), & Those Who Fight (FFVII)
  • Chocobo Medley
  • Final Fantasy (FFI)
  • Don't Be Afraid (FFVIII)
  • Phantom Forest (FFVI)
  • Theme of Love (FFIV)
  • Dalmasca Estersand (FFXII)
  • You're not Alone (FFIX)
  • Blinded by Light (FFXIII)
  • Opera "Maria and Draco" (FFVI)
  • Terra's Theme (FFVI)
  • One-Winged Angel (FFVII)

    The final song "One Winged Angel" was revealed via Nobuo Uematsu, who came up to the stage and sung the first few lines of the chorus. Nobuo didn't make any speeches in the concert, but listening him singing briefly was rather amusing.

    Overall, the concert was of great pleasure to attend and to listen to. Staple pieces such as "To Zanarkand" and "Theme of Love" are there, which I very much looked forward to. There were more pieces from FFVI than I have expected - with 3 in total. "Maria and Draco" was performed with 3 singers and 1 more person as a narrator, making it the longest piece performed in the concert.

    The lack of pieces from FFII and III is a bit of a pity, as there were medleys of them in the past concerts. Maybe next time I suppose?

    The one problem I had was the choice of location. The concert was held in one of the exhibition halls with seats arranged in rather peculiar way, with a lot of empty spaces at the sides and even between blocks of seats. This is nothing compared to, say, the Royal Albert Hall in London where Distant Worlds was performed. The Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui would make a better choice for such a concert in my opinion.

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    Outside the concert area, a whiteboard was available for fans to write or draw for Nobuo Uematsu.

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    And another whiteboard was there for fans to draw their favourite characters to their pleasure.

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    There were also PS3s set up nearby with Final Fantasy X HD Remaster demo, as well as those for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII demo. I had a quick go on Lightning Returns, where gameplay is still inherited from the previous FFXIII games, but seemingly even a little more fast-paced (and perhaps more button mashing). I got postcards as souvenirs from the staff for trying out the demo!

    The conductor Annie Roth said that he "can't wait to come back to Hong Kong again", so this is definitely great news for Hong Kong! I do hope that they will change the location to somewhere more suitable for a symphony concert!

    1. That must have been so cool to hear that live. My son went to a local concert here that they did Movie theme songs by John Williams (Jaws/Star Wars)and he really enjoyed it

      1. It really was a pleasure to listen to the concert, even though the venue could have been better (both atmospherically and choice of location). I do look forward to listening their performance again!

    2. The setlist looks legit. It pretty much matches most of the set played at the Celebration concert last year, tho you missed out on songs which require vocals, like Eyes on me from FFVIII and I assume that the venue didn't have an organ to take advantage of Dancing Mad.

      Uematsu sang some of one winged angel back in the 2011 concert at the RAH. That was somewhat surreal.

      1. Having listened to some of the recordings on YouTube, the list (as you've said) does greatly resemble some of those from the previous concerts. I think the only songs with vocal and words were Maria and Draco and One Winged Angel.

        I wished the concert were to take place in Hong Kong Cultural Centre, where it is more suited for a sitdown performance like symphony orchestra or opera!

    3. I attended the 27th July concert. I didn't quite like the location while comparing to those recordings I have seen before... Its far away from town, the hall itself is big while seats are unnecessarily far away from the stage, and the screen is too small, etc...... However it is still a good show for FF fans in HK.
      I am glad to have much FF6 music there, but I did expect songs like "Eyes on me", "素敵だね" or "Kiss Me Good-Bye"....
      Hopefully the concert will come to HK in the future.


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