Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

By Elie - 4:55 PM

I've just come home from something so magical, it feels almost surreal that I was there for 2 hours. Yes, you read my title right because I've just gotten home (okay not JUST but figuratively speaking...yeah) from the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in KLCC and they were featuring Distant Worlds; Music from Final Fantasy!

It's unbelievable that Distant Worlds decided to make KL one of their pit stops when they launched their tour in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of Final Fantasy in which they had featured music by composer Nobuo Uematsu but I am glad that they did anyway. These concerts; performed by symphony orchestra, choir and renowned vocal and instrumental soloists all play under the direction of Grammy Award winner and acclaimed conductor Arnie Roth while playing HD videos from the Final Fantasy game developers; Square Enix.

Anyway, months ago my overly excited / die hard Final Fantasy fan of a brother came across the news that Distant Worlds was coming to KL and had pre-booked his tickets...WITHOUT ME. Luckily enough when I decided to go as well they still had tickets that weren't too far off from his seat; albeit not as good a view. I'm sorry I hesitated, Distant Worlds. I didn't have a job back then and RM 180 per ticket was a pinch to a student like myself. Today, on the 18th of November 2012, we finally put our tickets to good use and arrived KLCC as early as 12.30 PM and headed for lunch [EDIT: Omg please read about my lunch experience!!!]...just because the hall wasn't open. I don't blame them, the show was at 3 PM but like I said, my brother is over enthusiastic over this.

Tickets!!! Swoosh goes my money...but it was worth it in the end.

It was pretty exciting as soon as we all got seated because everyone from the symphony orchestra were doing sound checks and the hall was filled with random tunes that made no sense at all. Eventually lights were dimmed and Arnie Roth stepped out to a roaring crowd of happy fans to conduct the very first song of the programme; the Prelude. Hearing the Prelude just made everyone a lot more excited because...well if the Prelude was already so amazing, just imagine what was to become of the following songs!

Sneakily took a picture of the orchestra hall...look at that screen with the glowing Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy picture!

Liberi Fatali of Final Fantasy VIII followed next and I had to say...it was the most amazing experience ever. The thing is that I've always thought Liberi Fatali is a freaky song with its tune and what not but the last time I heard it over on YouTube, it felt pretty good to hear it and today when the Dithyrambic Singers sang it along with the symphony orchestra it was just...wow. No amount of words could amount to the experience but wow. Really. A short lived Victory Theme was played; much to my surprise and I suppose it took everyone by shock. The Final Fantasy 2010 Medley was amazing but To Zanarkand followed right after; making me feel like the latter was much better. Of course, that's just my very own opinion and that may differ. Personal tastes. *Coughs*

The next song was a true surprise for my mother, my brother and I because of who came out as the soprano. It was none other than Stephanie Van Driesen and she was...amazing. I'm not saying it just because we know her personally but it was because she was really, REALLY good. Her rendition of Memoro de la Stono - Distant Worlds made me just want to stand up and clap but the "pai seh" in my kicked in. Of course, I told her about it when we met up briefly after. The Man with the Machine Gun was played and followed by Theme of Love putting me to jitters because this felt like it was running too fast down the programme handbook. Just before the 20 minute interval, they played the cutest Chocobo Medley 2010 EVER and even mum fell in love with Chocobos. They were like horses of mankind or something. And did I mention about this guy who walked into the concert hall to listen to the orchestra with a Chocobo hat? I really wanted to take a picture with him but I was too shy to do so. BUT IT WAS SO CUTE! And in case you have no idea how a Chocobo looks like, here's a picture!

It is the bird looking thing. SO CUTE.
Picture courtesy of: Digilander

Right after the interval, the all round famous Opening: Bombing Mission of Final Fantasy VII was played, presumably to bring up the hype for Dear Friends that was performed together with guitarist Az Samad. The programmed continued on to Vamo' alla Flamenco; also with Az Samad before getting to Blinded by Light which was composed by Masashi Hamauzu instead. Sad to say, I am not quite familiar with these songs but it was still very light on the ear and quite a pleasure to listen to. Don't Be Afraid and Clash on the Big Bridge came around possibly to tone things down a little because it was just about this time when Wai Kin asked what was my favorite song and it felt like magic to have heard Aerith's Theme being performed right after. Admittedly, I've always loved that song even when there are so many to choose from.

The programme nearly came to an end with the Opera: Mario and Darco that was performed together with Ho Chi Mei, James Long Cai Hunt and Mak Chi Hoe. My personal favorite from that performance had to be James Long because of his strong vocals and a truly amazing voice. To end the programme, Terra's Theme was played and eventually Arnie Roth took his bow to walk off the stage even though there was a roaring crowd of people who wanted more. I'll be honest, I wanted more as well and luckily for everyone, he complied. (I'm thinking they always have one or two songs up their sleeves for encore purposes...I've been to one too many gigs of my boyfriend's band!)

The song he picked for an encore performance was none other than Suteki Da Ne and we were so pleased to have Stephanie Van Driesen back on stage. Again, her rendition was just perfect. The feelings she put inside the song? It was remarkable. Her voice and the melody that she had in her took everyone on such a ride. And here's something even more remarkable that Arnie Roth did in the end. He conducted One Winged Angel. Seriously, that was...bloody...good. I cannot even begin to put it in words on how good it was but it was just...GOOD. You can't just expect to read it and feel it, you have to BE there to feel it. So if they are coming again next year, everybody go get tickets and watch it!!!

A brief meet and greet session was conducted and to nobody's surprise, my brother DEMANDED to be there too. No kidding, he literally demanded that we rush there. Of course, so did everyone else because there was an extremely long queue that followed with everyone holding on to their newly bought Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy booklet to get autographs from Stephanie Van Driesen (Soprano), Arnie Roth (Conductor), Az Samad (Guitarist), Ho Chi Mei (Soprano), James Long Cai Hunt (Tenor) and Mak Chi Hoe (Bass). The best part to OUR meet and greet? Stephanie recognized my brother and I! Ha! And my brother got a hug from her. Details of what happened after shall thereon be forgotten. So yes, we all got autographed goods and left with happy ears. We couldn't help it. The orchestra was bloody good.

No photography...TAKE PICTURES ANYWAY!!!

A very humble Arnie Roth giving out his autograph to a fan. I was there...WAS.

 Autographed booklet. Jyeah! (Sorry about the light glare, the booklet was printed on glossy paper)

Plus a brand new Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy T-shirt. Costed a bomb but worth it in the end.

Overall, the orchestra was amazing and if I may say so myself...it was major eargasm. I'm praying HARD that they come back next year because I wouldn't hesitate to buy tickets at all but hopefully I'd get the CD soon enough. And if all goes well, Arnie Roth has hinted that Nobuo Uematsu may drop by KL too! Keep your eyes peeled wide open because if they DO come back...I'll be there!And before I leave, here's a girly photograph of me before attending the orchestra. 

I don't always look this girly...but when I do, I simply go all out.

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