As one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time, Final Fantasy has captured the hearts and imaginations of gamers worldwide. Its incredible music has consistently led the industry, influencing generations of gamers and composers. So much so, it spawned the Distant Worlds concert series, which brings the music of Final Fantasy to life in a live setting. Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy is still going strong, and we had the chance to attend a show supported by the excellent Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
The Distant Worlds concert series was first launched in 2007, and has since become a major event for Final Fantasy fans around the world. The concerts feature music from throughout the franchise’s history, including both classic tracks and newer compositions. Because Distant Worlds concerts are performed by a live orchestra, classic tracks have a level of depth and richness that is simply not possible with the beeps and boops of our childhoods.
So who are the talented individuals responsible for bringing the music of Final Fantasy to life in the Distant Worlds concerts? At the helm is conductor Arnie Roth, who has been involved with the series since its inception. Roth is a classically trained violinist and conductor who has worked with many top orchestras throughout his career. He’s a spirited and passionate performer, and seems to really bring out the best in his musicians. Roth has a deep understanding of Final Fantasy’s music, having worked closely with composer Nobuo Uematsu on many of the series’ most iconic tracks.
Uesmatsu is of course just one of several composers whose music is featured in the Distant Worlds concerts. Widely regarded as one of the greatest video game composers of all time, Uematsu was responsible for the music in many of the early Final Fantasy games. His music is characterized by its sweeping melodies, lush orchestration, and catchy hooks. The number of Uematsu analyses on YouTube from composers is astounding, and really shows how influential he has been. Other composers whose music is featured in the concerts include Masashi Hamauzu, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Yoko Shimomura, all of whom have contributed their own unique styles to the franchise.
Of course, the real stars of the Distant Worlds concerts are the musicians themselves. The concerts feature world-class orchestras and choirs, who bring a level of skill and artistry to the music that is simply breathtaking. The Vancouver Symphony is well known for their flexibility and the musicians delivered performances that were both powerful and emotional. From slower ballads like Balamb Garden to the bombastic Jenova – Complete, the musicians delivered.
The magic of the Distant Worlds experience is hard to overstate. With the usual Symphony crowd sprinkled amongst the Final Fantasy faithful, the atmosphere is really special. I paid special attention to crowd during the show, and the grins of the audience shone brilliantly. Even the performers were clearly enjoying the experience. Of particular note in the show we attended – besides the excellent Barrett and Tifa cosplayers – were Apocalypsis Noctis from FF15, Final Fantasy 9’s Not Alone, and a medley of battle themes from the 8 and 16 bit games.
Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy is an incredible celebration of one of the greatest video game franchises of all time. With a talented conductor, a roster of exceptional composers, and world-class musicians, the concerts are a must-see for any fan of Final Fantasy’s music. As the franchise continues to evolve and expand, it’s clear that the future is bright for Distant Worlds and the amazing music that it brings to life. Distant Worlds might be coming to a city near you, and if you’re at all a fan of the series, you’d best grab a ticket!