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!
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!
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.
Outside the concert area, a whiteboard was available for fans to write or draw for Nobuo Uematsu.
And another whiteboard was there for fans to draw their favourite characters to their pleasure.
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!