This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert at Symphony Hall in Boston! This was actually my fourth Distant Worlds concert – I went twice when the show was in New York, and once last year when they came to Boston for the first time. It is an amazing experience each concert, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, I really do recommend attending if you have a chance. It is truly wonderful.
An important part of a game is the soundtrack. Music can make us feel a myriad of emotions, and when used correctly in a game, can be extremely memorable and poignant. Everyone remembers the fanfare used when opening a chest in Legend of Zelda games, or the Mario Theme, or when that very last note played at the end of BioShock: Infinite. Music in games is important, and the Final Fantasy games are no stranger to this. Nobuo Uematsu is a fantastic composer, and uses the medium perfectly.
Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy takes the audience on a journey through their favorite Final Fantasy songs. This is especially effective when songs from the older games are played. Hearing midi tunes played by a full orchestra is amazing. The concert, conducted by Arnie Roth and played by the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra (featuring the Berklee choir in some songs) was a nostalgic trip back to the past, bringing up memories of hearing some of these songs for the first time. They played Final Fantasy staples such as One-Winged Angel, a full performance of the Opera sequence, a medley of battle music, and the famous chocobo theme. Each track is accompanied by a video montage, playing out scenes from the game. It made you feel as if you were actually home in your living room, playing and watching the game. I imagine it must be hard to play or arrange as well. We’ve all heard these songs hundreds of times during the games, and we expect a faithful arrangement. Each arrangement was definitely faithful, and added just enough difference to make the songs unique and slightly fresh. Nobuo Uematsu himself got up on stage and played synthesizer during a beautifully haunting arrangement of Final Fantasy VI’s Dark World that almost left me in tears. All in all, Sunday was an amazing nostalgic experience involving the best of the extensive repertoire of Final Fantasy music. Some of my favorite were the Opera from FFVI, The Main Theme from FFVII, and (their opening song) Liberi Fatali from FFVIII. I missed hearing FFVI’s Dancing Mad and Terra’s Theme, but there’s always next time.
If you haven’t heard of Distant Worlds, they currently have two CDs and a DVD out and are touring all around the world. The conductor mentioned that they are set to continue touring for the next few years. For a Final Fantasy fan, the CDs are excellent, and are on repeat quite often for me.
To wrap up, I think what I enjoyed most about the concert was the feeling of community. Looking around me, there were people my age, people in their teens, thirties, forties, and even many elders that looked to be in their sixties or seventies. It was such a diverse group of people brought together by one thing: their love for the Final Fantasy series, and the music of the games. The woman sitting next to me was in her fifties. She was wearing a Final Fantasy VI sweatshirt that looked as though it was purchased when the game was first released. When every song played, she would put her hands up to her face, she was tearing up throughout almost every song, and she mouthed along the lyrics to the Opera. In a room with so many different people; different ages, gender, races, or personalities, we were all united by our love of the games. And that’s beautiful.