This Sunday PM at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, AWR Music Productions and GFN Productions present Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY, the official tour of the FINAL FANTASY Symphony Orchestra, brought to Montreal by the now renowned Orchestre FilmHarmonique.
Launched in 2007 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of FINAL FANTASY, Distant Worlds features music from composer Nobuo Uematsu’s acclaimed FINAL FANTASY video game series, including music from the latest cycle, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Over the decades, other composers have also contributed, including Masayoshi Soken.
These works are performed by a symphony orchestra, a choir, vocal and instrumental soloists drawn from the famous video game. In this case, the conductor is GRAMMY award-winner Arnie Roth. Needless to say, HD images from developers SQUARE ENIX are projected onto giant screens, all in phase with the interpretations.
PAN M 360: What are the qualities of the works on the program, taken from Final Fantasy, a mythical video game that has been around for over 35 years?
Arnie Roth: I can answer this by pointing out that in the Distant Worlds concert productions, all of the scores we perform aim to be as close as possible to the way they appeared in the games. We will represent music from the entire 35 years of the FINAL FANTASY series on this concert, and we are including scores from FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, and the premiere performance of FINAL FANTASY XIV: The Final Day, on this concert.
PAN M 360: Who wrote the arrangements and orchestrations on the program? How was it put together? How do we take the music from video games and transform it into orchestral works?
Arnie Roth : The answers would require 3 different in-depth discussions. The Distant Worlds arrangements are put together by teams in Japan as well as by our own arrangements by Eric and Arnie Roth. Many of these are actually original versions from the games, and as such they were supervised by the composers involved : Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, Masayoshi Soken, and more.
PAN M 360: Do you always work with the same scores ? Can the scores evolve over time?
Arnie Roth : Yes, in fact we have over 160 FINAL FANTASY scores in our Distant Worlds library. It is a constant process of adding new scores all the time. No 2 concerts have exactly the same repertoire.
PAN M 360: In your opinion, what is the added value of symphonic arrangements of music for video games?
Arnie Roth : There are so many. First, understand that one of the unique qualities of all of the FF videogames is the extreme variety of genres and ensembles used on the OST of each game – Rock, Jazz, Symphonic, chamber music ensembles, choral ensembles, solo vocals, and more. The use of the symphony in these concerts comes from the template created first by Nobuo Uematsu in the earliest FF concerts in Japan.
PAN M 360: You work with a number of different orchestras with the same repertoire, so are there any differences in interpretation between the orchestras you work with? If so, what are those specificities ?
Arnie Roth : Of course each orchestra we work with around the globe has different strengths. There are many factors including how much rehearsal time we have, what venue we are performing in, etc. However, I can confidently state that there are no discernable differences in interpretation, since I am guiding that specific thing myself in each case.
PAN M 360: Have you ever worked with the FilmHarmonic Orchestra? What do you know about this orchestra?
Arnie Roth : Yes I have, and they have always done a great job, and a pleasure to work with.
PAN M 360: Does your audience consist mainly of gamers who are proud to hear music from their favorite games acquire symphonic luster?
Arnie Roth : Yes, that is mostly correct, though I would make sure to take note of the strong sense of the FF community that takes place with each concert.
PAN M 360: What are your next projects as maestro and musician?
Arnie Roth : We have many Distant Worlds and A New World concerts throughout 2024, some with new themes. There are also many new projects for 2024, and I unfortunately cannot divulge anything at this time.
PAN M 360: Do you think that this symphonic music can interest audiences in the classical, modern and contemporary repertoire for symphony orchestras?
Arnie Roth : Yes, definitely. And I have to say that we have been performing Distant Worlds at the most important venues and orchestra’s for 16 years.
PAN M 360: In any case, your audiences are having a great time with this new orchestral music. Is it more than enough for you to bring happiness to these video game-inclined audiences?
Arnie Roth : YES! But do not underestimate my own joy at performing these fantastic scores with musicians all over the globe!
PAN M 360: Thank you so much for your collaboration!