VG Tribune

A New World – Intimate Music Experience

March 4, 2015 / 11:10 AM

By: Dale Kelley

This is a review for the February 7th performance in Ann, Arbor MI of “A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy”. From the same producers as Distant Worlds, I hope that my experience will help to encourage more fans of great music and Final Fantasy to attend future sessions. Arnie Roth (composer) and The New World Players performed brilliantly that night, and I only wish that I could share the experience as intimately with you as they did with me.

I’ve been to very few operas and plays in my life, but never have I gone to one with the level of enthusiasm that I brought to this show. It made every little thing about it seem magical, even finding a place to park wasn’t bad (and I wasn’t overcharged either).

The auditorium had just a few spaces available, but felt like a full house. There were cosplayers and general music lovers there, but in general you felt a ton of positive energy in the air. Nearly everyone there loved Final Fantasy, and quite a few Nintendo fans assembled as well.


It was a bit odd that the ‘FF Victory Music’ was played at the beginning instead of at the end of the show, but that was the only odd bit. If anything, it did feel like the show starting was a success. Arnie Roth was probably right to claim victory immediately (that could also make for an interesting gameplay mechanic). The ordering of the music felt perfect. You weren’t made to feel constantly powerful bits like ‘Return to Zanarkand’ constantly nor many humorous tunes like the Mog song. Just as each composed piece had its’ own perfect ebb and flow, the entire show was made to play harmoniously from piece to piece.

Standout pieces were of course ‘Zanarkand’, ‘One Winged Angel’, the Moogle and ‘Chocobo Medley’s and the Town theme from the original Final Fantasy. Honestly, there wasn’t a single bad arrangement. I don’t mean to disparage any here by omitting a mention of them, but there were a handful that spoke to me just a tad bit more than others. I’ve mulled over the experience and it was just better than I could ever place into words. The show does have the proper name,and every performer was absolutely stunning.


The concert reintroduced music and past stories through the performance. Due to the great talent that played it, you did not need to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy it. Instead, the music itself will tell you a story if you allow it to wash over you. That is what the “A New World” part means. Much like how the Old World was fully explored centuries ago and the new one brought excitement, it was thrilling to hear how every arrangement was tackled and what would come next.

The intimate music? Yes, it was all carefully chosen and arranged in a way to closely control your emotions and feelings. It draws a scene aurally. That’s the best way that I can describe the show to people that weren’t there. You hear music and without even needing to close your eyes, you feel emotion and action. A wave of happenings, distinctly tied to the music, plays before you. My companion felt the same way as well as everyone else that I questioned at the sow. We did not all share the same specifics, but the overall feeling and timing of those feelings were in sync. It’s amazing to hear such a performance live, and it can only be described as incredible when you hear ‘Zanarkand’ described in a way that perfectly fit the opening of Final Fantasy X from a person that has never played nor watched the game.



Nobuo Uematsu’s work cannot be praised enough, and Arnie Roth’s arrangements (made in concert with Nobuo) and careful selection of players is a match that doesn’t often get made. It will be difficult to play Final Fantasy with equipment that doesn’t do the music justice, and recordings that can’t match the live play. Attending the concert was both a blessing and a curse. When else am I going to have a small orchestra invite me to shout “SE-PHI-ROTH” while they play ‘One Winged Angel’? I’m going to miss those glorious piano solos and the meticulously brilliant performance of the flute and woodwind players. I could have sworn that I also heard a triangle or something similar at one point. It was a small group but they were ferocious, and they played with the heart of an assemble ten times their size.

I was only disappointed that the concert ended, but that’s the only truly negative thing that I can state.

About the author /

Ostentatiously analytical, Nintendo and PC gaming lover. Dale observes the world closely in a way that you can’t help but to love and mimic.

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