Distant Worlds: The Music From Final Fantasy

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I love video game music. More often than not during my university years I was listening to Final Fantasy soundtracks as I took my ninety-minute long commute to campus. The last time I watched the Perseid Meteor Shower, I laid on the roof of the house with nothing but my jacket and an iPod playing the music from Chrono Cross. Heck, once I stopped neglecting the piano in the basement of the house, I was even printing off game and anime music. And of course, many years ago, I was the only guy in band my year who knew how to play the Mario theme on my trumpet.

Last Wednesday at the Distant Worlds: The Music From Final Fantasy concert in Vancouver, BC, I remembered all over again why that love for game music is likely to never go away.

The Distant Worlds concert tour, led by conductor, composer, and Grammy award-winner Arnie Roth, is the official symphonic presentation of the musical works from the Final Fantasy series. The concert debuted with the Final Fantasy series' 20th anniversary and continues a tradition of Final Fantasy orchestral concerts like the Tour De Japon in 2004 and the Dear Friends American tour in 2005. Distant Worlds travels all around the world, has a few years under its belt, and thus far doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. And truly, we are all the more fortunate for that.

I had heard rumblings about the concert a few months ago but hadn't actually committed to buying tickets until only a few weeks before the show. In and of itself, not such a big deal except the VIP tickets with the post-show meet-and-greet were all sold out. Sure, they were $160 a pop and were almost three times what I paid for my own tickets, but there was definite worth in meeting and greeting this year...

...Nobuo Uematsu, the composer to many a Final Fantasy soundtrack (along with a slew of others), the veritable patron saint of video game music, was coming to Vancouver.

I'm not sure if the concert sold out, but the Orpheum Theatre seemed plenty packed to me. As expected, the general demographic skewed younger than not. In terms of atmosphere, it ran the full range of suits and nightgowns to t-shirts and jeans; myself, I didn't quite go full-suit, but I figured I should dress up a little - we were going to the symphony. Also curiously, I did not see nearly as much cosplay as I expected. I suppose my experience at Video Games Live (which actually gives prizes for attendees in cosplay) played with my expectations a little, but at Distant Worlds I figure only about ten people out of twenty-five hundred were in full cosplay. Still, it was fun to see a white mage and black mage couple a few rows ahead of us and others here and there. So it wasn't really a formal occasion, though many did choose to treat it as one. So yes, it was more formal than Video Games Live, but maybe a little less formal than the Yoshida Brothers.

Unsurprisingly, I saw a few familiar faces from the local convention circles. Some were friends, others more acquaintances, but in all they were still faces I tended to see once or twice every year. Given the venue, it’s kind of a given that we’re the sorts who would come out for it. More so I just found it amusing how often I would say something like “oh hey, it’s that girl that always cosplays Reno…” It’s a pretty tightly-knit community in Vancouver, and this concert was no exception.

But enough back story. Everyone wants to hear about the concert!