Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy has had some epic concerts throughout the last few years. But the concert series’ latest stop in the U.S. promises to be one of the hyped and exciting shows yet. On January 31st, Distant Worlds will be showcasing a Tri-State ‘Marathon’ concert in Newark, NJ. You heard correctly: a 2-show concert (one at 3 PM, and the other at 8 PM) filled with plenty of debuts that will make the rest of the U.S. wish that the concert had stopped in their city. How hyped are we talking about? How about the North American premiere of Final Fantasy VIII’s ‘Balamb Garden’? Guest soloist RIKKI’s (AKA: Ritsuki Nakano) US debut of singing ‘Suteki da ne’? These experiences and many more are what Distant Worlds and Final Fantasy fans can expect on January 31st. For a more extensive preview on this concert, scroll down to the interview with Arnie Roth below. You can still purchase tickets for both shows, which can be found at the following link.
Arnie Roth: The New Jersey concerts are unique, with completely different sets of repertoire. For instance: RIKKI is coming in (original voice from ‘Suteki da ne’ from Final Fantasy X). I’ve conducted with her before in Japan. She’s never come out on tour before to the United States. Susan Calloway is also going to be featured as a soloist. With those two soloists and the two unique concerts, it will make for quite a day.
Matthew Williams: Is this the first time you’ve ever done a ‘Marathon’ concert before?
AR: Actually, we have done one before. Not exactly with this set of scores, though. I believe it was around 2011. For this ‘Marathon’, we’ve prepared some new pieces from Final Fantasy VI. These were originally played last August in Chicago. They are: ‘The Character Theme Medley’ and ‘Balance is Restored’. We are also going to play two pieces from Final Fantasy IX, which originally premiered in London: ‘Rose of May’ and ‘Festival of the Hunt’. Both of these will be played at the 8 PM show.
MW: How was the reception of these pieces at that show?
AR: They were fantastic. It is interesting…even when you are finished with a score, you still consider the pacing of the program and wonder how the reaction will be on some of pieces. For instance: I thought ‘Festival of the Hunt’ would be the exciting, up-tempo piece…and that ‘Rose of May’ would be slow-paced and not garner as big of a reaction. Turns out, it was the opposite in London. The audience reaction was strongest for ‘Rose of May’. We are also doing ‘Hymn of the Fayth: The Sending’ from Final Fantasy X, which we premiered at the Chicago concert in August. This version has about 4-5 versions drawn directly from the game. The song will conclude with solo singers that are out in the audience or in hymnal positions (i.e.: away from the chorus, but in different corners of the venue). This gives an antithesis type of effect. (i.e.: one bass baritone singing, one soprano singing, and then unison men with an orchestral accompaniment).
MW: You mentioned that the 3 PM and 8 PM shows have different orchestral arrangements. Is there a particular theme for these two shows?
AR: There are so many factors to be taken into account. We look at what the newest scores are that we can showcase at a city. We also look at scores that haven’t been performed in the area before. We also look at which soloists are coming in. All of these affect what I’m able to program. There are also my conversations with Nobuo-san and Square Enix around programming. I want to make sure there are selections from all 14 of the main games. Also, when we’re premiering new pieces (especially if we are coming into an area for a second time), we want to make sure we play new pieces. Another piece I’m very excited about doing is Final Fantasy VIII’s ‘Balamb Garden’. We’ve never performed this piece at any previous Final Fantasy concerts before (Distant Worlds, Dear Friends, etc.). We are premiering it in Japan next week – that will be the world premiere. But Newark, NJ will be the North American debut.
MW: Wow. I’ve seen and heard about Distant Worlds concerts with special guests here and there (like Nobuo-san being at one, Masashi-san being at another, etc.). But this concert has everybody. It’s got Nobuo-san, RIKKI, Susan Calloway…everybody! You will even be playing ‘Dark Worlds’ with Nobuo-san correct?
AR: It will be a special concert, and yes, we will be playing ‘Dark Worlds’ in the evening.
MW: This sounds like THE Distant Worlds concert to kick off the New Year. Thank you again for the preview, Arnie.