Otakon 2018 – Distant Worlds concert

Since Distant Worlds started in 2007, I’ve been to all their concerts in the New York area. And every concert has been a wonderful experience of music, animation and story. A celebration with fans of music and game. But for Otakon to host the concert was a rare treat for attendees. And it was even rarer for me to be able to take photos to memorialize the evening after only savoring with my eyes and ears for so long.

The concert started as usual with the tuning of the wind instruments and finally the strings. The audience was quiet as Conductor Arnie Roth and legendary composer, Uematsu Nobuo came on stage. Uematsu-san sat in the audience as usual, a few rows from the front. (Always a surprise for fans to be able to sit near the legend.) The concert opened with the prelude to Final Fantasy VIII, Liberi Fatali, a powerful yet nostalgic piece for many. It was followed by the Victory Theme as Roth mentioned during talks that no Final Fantasy concert can really start without it.

    Roth: Welcome to Distant Worlds, Otakon! Thank you for having us! Not sure everyone knows but this is another premiere. This is our first actual performance at a convention. My congratulations to Otakon for pulling it off!

Roth mentioned the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy game franchise as well as the 10th anniversary of the Distant Worlds concert series. Roth introduced Uematsu-san in the audience along with Square Enix and Dog Ear Records.

As with every concert, Roth spoke a bit about the music after every two pieces. And accompanied with the melodies were clips from the games. The tempo of the pieces matched the action which shows how powerful the conductor is for bringing it all together.

Roth inquired about the Final Fantasy XIV fans in the audience before diving into the music composed by Soken Masayoshi-san. A soprano solo accompanied the piece, HEAVENSWARD which was light and beautiful.

What made everyone laugh was the age old question, “How many versions of the Chocobo Theme do you think there are? There might be a thousand, there might be ten thousand?” *audience laughs* Then they played the arrangement from the 25th Anniversary, Chocobo Medley accompanied with the clip of chocobos from all the games, starting with 8-bit chocobo running across the screen.

One of my favorite pieces and definite a favorite of the orchestra is To Zanarkand, as Roth mentioned it’s a piece that must be played at every concert. The beautiful piece with gentle melodies is paired with one of the most beautiful FMVs from the games, Final Fantasyi X.

The credits are played to the Final Fantasy Series Main Theme, but the concert is not truly over…yet. The encore is one that is highly anticipated as Uematsu-san is takes the stage…and joins the choir for the ever popular, One Winged Angel. Prior to the start though, Roth taught the audience how to sing the three notes. Could be out of tune for some people, but for most, we could sing it out without any trouble.

One of these days, I hope to see Uematsu-san take the stage and the conductor baton as he has done so in the past. But for now, seeing him sing so happily in the choir makes me smile. Music creates a bond that words cannot touch at times and these concerts always bring us all to another world.

    Set list
    Final Fantasy VIII: Liberi Fatali
    Final Fantasy Victory Theme
    Final Fantasy VI: Character Theme Medley
    Final Fantasy VII: Cosmo Canyon
    Final Fantasy XIV: HEAVENSWARD
    Final Fantasy IX: Not Alone
    Final Fantasy IV: Theme of Love
    Final Fantasy XV: Apocalypsis Noctis
    Final Fantasy series: Chocobo Medley 2012
    Final Fantasy VII: Bombing Mission
    Final Fantasy X: To Zanarkand
    Final Fantasy series: Battle and Victory Theme Medley
    Final Fantasy Series Main Theme

    Final Fantasy VII: One-Winged Angel