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Adam Corn Sep 12, 2012 (edited Oct 16, 2014)

Since the Distant Worlds series Final Fantasy orchestral concerts keep coming at a regular pace around the world, I thought it'd be good to have a single thread to announce new concerts and set lists and give concert impressions.

Please post any new concert dates I miss along the way and I'll try to keep this list updated to reflect them.

12/06: Toronto, Canada
11/01: London, England
09/13: Vienna, Austria
08/24: Chicago, USA
08/15: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
06/01: Santiago, Chile
04/26: Portland, USA
04/13: Berlin, Germany
04/10: Nashville, USA
03/12: Mexico City, Mexico
03/08: Paris, France (2 shows)

12/07: Montreal, Canada
11/23: Miami, USA
10/06: Boston, USA
07/27: Hong Kong, China
07/18: San Diego, USA
06/20: Buenos Aires, Argentina
06/15: Vienna, Austria
06/14: ""
06/08: Atlanta, USA
06/07: ""
04/24: Vancouver, Canada
03/21: Omaha, USA
03/03: Munich, Germany
03/02: ""
02/14: Milwaukee, USA
01/13: Paris, France
01/12: ""

12/31: Tokyo, Japan ("The Celebration")
12/28: Osaka, Japan ("The Celebration")
12/26: Tokyo, Japan ("The Celebration")
12/08: Montreal, Canada
12/07: Chicago, USA ("The Celebration")
11/24: Adelaide, Australia
11/18: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11/17: ""
11/16: ""
11/04: Edinburgh, UK
11/02: London, UK ("The Celebration")

Ticket purchase links, previous shows and other info can be found at the official Distant Worlds home page.  For other Distant Worlds-related discussion at STC see the sidebar on this page.

Adam Corn Sep 12, 2012

Very happy to see the year-end Tokyo shows (which aren't listed on the Distant Worlds page but on Square Enix Japan's music site instead).  I skipped out on "Returning Home" and have regretted it since hearing those surprisingly great FFXIV arrangements on the album release.  If they perform "Answers" again this next time around I'm there!

Supposedly these "The Celebration" shows have some new arrangements to boot so it'll be interesting to see what that entails.

James O Sep 12, 2012

i'll be going to the Chicago event in December.  Hope to see some of you there?

Cedille Sep 21, 2012

I may attend the Tokyo one assuming it's sort of a countdown event, as otherwise I don't have any plan at the end of the year, so during the VGM concert is a somewhat crazy yet cool moment to ring in the new year. The venue is only 20 mins away from my home, so no matter if I can't make the last train.

Adam Corn Oct 14, 2012 (edited Oct 14, 2012)

Just a heads-up for those in Japan (or planning to be at year's end) that the purchase period for the first round of ticket pre-orders for the Tokyo and Osaka shows ends at midnight tonight Japan time.  Anyone interested in going should probably jump on it.  (I'm planning to buy tix for the Dec. 31 show.)

Edit: Also added dates to the opening thread post for other Distant Worlds shows in Paris, Munich, and Kuala Lumpur.

Edit 2: New arrangements planned for the "Celebration" shows:
FFIV: Battle With Four Fiends
FFV: Main Theme
FFVI: The Phantom Forest
FFVI: "Nobuo Uematsu's new version" of Opera Maria & Draco
FFXI: Vana'diel March
FFXII: The Dalmasca Estersand

Cedille Oct 14, 2012

Thanks Adam, I just entered in the drawing to preorder a ticket. I'll be most unlikely to make it to the 26th concert (since it's Wednesday), but only the 31st.  Surprising to know anything ever from XII is on the program. Seems like I'm used to see it neglected.

James O Dec 8, 2012

The new arrangements are pretty good, I was at the Chicago event last night.  While I missed some of the other arrangements that have been on the CD releases, experiencing the new stuff live in person was great.  FFIV's Battle with the Four Fiends was very interesting.  FFXII's Dalmasca Estersand was particularly great imo, while the "new" FFVI Opera arrangement didn't seem that much different from the old one.  Still great to experience it in person.  Susan Calloway... what a beauty and such a great voice!  The new Chocobo medley was rather cute.  Hopefully considering the tracklist of the upcoming FF Orchestra album means that some of these are making it to disc.  I'll have to dig out my Returning Home DVD and give it another watch.

I got the meet and greet ticket so I was able to meet Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth after the show.  It was fast and over all too quickly, but i got my first print FFIV OST signed and my Distant Worlds Returning Home DVD booklet signed.

The theater itself was decent enough, the merch line was tremendously long when all I wanted to get was the program.  Most everything else they were selling was stuff I had already (Dissidia/Duodecim ltd ed soundtracks, Play Arts Kai Trading minis, Distant Worlds CD's, etc.)
The lobby performance of FFVI Dark World was nice but almost impossible to see where i was as everyone's arms were up with their cellphones trying to record it... why people do this is still beyond me.  You're not paying attention to the performance at all and all you'll be left with is some crappy video with terrible sound cause your phone sucks.

All in all, a great night.

James O Dec 12, 2012

Well, this sucks... just got my meet and greet pic and it looks like since i was so early in line, I missed out on meeting Susan Calloway.  She hadn't come out yet from after the show i guess or something.  sad  oh well.  guess I'll have to try again at some point.

Adam Corn Dec 31, 2012

I went to the first of two Distant Worlds "The Celebration" concerts in Tokyo a few days ago (the second is tonight).  Review follows. smile

On Dec. 26 the first of three special "The Celebration" Distant Worlds concerts in Japan was held at the Tokyo International Forum (this following two similar recent concerts in Chicago and London).  Arnie Roth conducted the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra (no stranger to orchestral game concerts) and Real Singers of Tokyo choral group, with featured solo performances by Susan Calloway and Crystal Kay.

The Japan concert tour coincides with the release of the Blu-ray "Final Fantasy Orchestral Album".  Said release shares not only several of the older, oft-featured arrangements in the Distant Worlds series, but some of the new ones featured in these Celebration concerts as well.

On a personal note this was my first Distant Worlds concert and my fourth Final Fantasy-related concert overall, following 20020220 (also in Tokyo International Forum), the unofficial (but awesome) Little Jack Orchestra FFVI concert, and the part-Final Fantasy (and also awesome) Symphonic Fantasies Tokyo.

The Program (as I remember it):

FFI-III Medley 2002
FFIV Battle with the Four Fiends (new)
FFV Main Theme (new)
FFVI The Phantom Forest (new)
FFVII One Winged Angel
FFVIII Don't Be Afraid
FFIX You're Not Alone (new)
FFX Zanarkand
Chocobo Medley (new The Celebration version)


FFXI Medley (new?)
FFXII The Dalmasca Estersan (new)
FFXIII Blinded by Light
FFXIV Answers (ft. Susan Calloway)
FFIV Theme of Love
FFVIII Eyes on Me (ft. Crystal Kay)
FFVI Opera "Maria and Draco" (new The Celebration version)
Battle Medley (new)
Final Fantasy Theme

The First Half:

The program began by proceeding in chronological order through the series, which was a nice touch for an anniversary concert.  Of the nine arrangements in the first half of the program only four were old standbys.  The FFI-III Medley is hardly an exciting choice but it's hard to argue against its inclusion, and even having tired of One Winged Angel long ago I'll admit the quality performance (one of the best I've heard) accompanied by some of the more kinetic visuals from Advent Children actually gave me some chills, while the beautiful Zanarkand arrangement is welcome in any concert.

FFIV, V, VI and IX all featured brand new arrangements.  Though some of the arranged additions in FFIV Battle with the Four Fiends and FFVI The Phantom Forest I found detracted from the mood of their respective pieces as much as they contributed, I'd still be very interested in hearing them again on the Orchestral Album.  The brighter, uptempo arrangements for FFV Main Theme and FFIX You're Not Alone fared somewhat better.  Closing out the first half of the program was an entirely new Chocobo Medley, which started with an original composition from I think FFXI before segueing into FFV Mambo de Chocobo (the chorus got to have some fun with this one) and FFXIII Pulse de Chocobo, which couldn't quite keep the energy of the OST version but did a good job trying.

The Second Half:

Continuing in chronological series order, the second half of the concert began as a sort of dedication to the contributing composers of the series.  The surprisingly lengthy FFXI Medley must have featured a good four or five themes, including Vana'diel March and either Metalworks or Wings of the Goddess.  Next came the highlight of the instrumental pieces for me, FFXII The Dalmasca Estersan.  It was great see FFXII's orchestra-friendly score finally get some love from Roth and co., and this fairly straightforward but energetic arrangement further convinced me that an FFXII orchestral album would be to die for.  FFXIII's Blinded by Light was a somewhat mundane selection by comparison, but at least the arrangement was given a much more substantial finale over its Distant Worlds: Returning Home arrangement.

The real treat of the concert came with the onset of the vocal pieces (not something I'd usually expect to say), and especially with Susan Calloway's chorus-assisted performance of FFXIV Answers.  I can't stress enough how astoundingly epic this piece is - having written off FFXIV's OST I was stunned by the arrangement on Returning Home, and the performance here absolutely matched it.  Calloway's stage presence could be more bold and theatrical to match the tremendous drama of the piece, but in any case her vocal performance was impeccable.  Following this and a brief instrumental interlude via FFIV's Theme of Love came Crystal Kay's performance of FFVIII Eyes on Me, which again was shockingly good.  Given the generally low talent level of the mainstream J-pop scene I wasn't expecting much, but Kay's performance was both elegant and powerful, possibly surpassing Faye Wong's original performance (again we'll have to listen to the new Orchestral Album to say for sure).

The final vocal piece was the famous Opera "Maria and Draco" from FFVI.  This is another piece in the Distant Worlds repertoire I consider overemphasized and overplayed, but this highly-touted new arrangement for The Celebration had some surprises in store.  As with One Winged Angel the performance - both by the orchestra and the Draco soloist - was one of the best thus far (though the other two soloists' performances were more average and the cheeky narration I could do without).  The real surprise however came at the end of the arrangement, when it shifted into an orchestral rendition of the Black Mages 3 version's original finale.  Now as someone who pretty much hated that album and particularly that arrangement, I literally grimaced when I realized the turn the piece was taking, but once you get past the complete shift in tone from traditional opera to rock opera, it turns out to be a delightfully indulgent and energetic addition to the program, with the orchestra having far greater impact than the Black Mages rock performance did.  As the arrangement is still missing the OST's "Grand Finale?" movement, the classic Orchestral Game Concert 4 version remains a mainstay, but this new Distant Worlds version is now something to be excited about for upcoming shows.

Closing out the main program was the new Battle Medley, which as best as I can recall included FFV Battle on the Big Bridge, FFVII Fighting, FFX Seymour Battle, and the Victory Fanfare.  As the transitions from piece to piece were arranged pretty lazily the emphasis here was on the themes themselves, and though Seymour Battle is a hard piece to work with the others had at least plenty of energy, and best of all Fighting finally (finally!) received the purely orchestral performance it's been begging for all these years.

For the finale Roth returned on stage to conduct the Final Fantasy main theme.  If they really want to go all-out with their shows they could consider going with something more ambitious here - any of the ending themes from FFIV, V or VI or even an orchestral arrangement of the SQ Chips ending medley would make mind-blowing finales to the concert program.  But even with a predictable closing selection it's hard to argue such a jam-packed concert program to be short on substance or new material.

The Venue:

With its vast scale, modern architecture and premium location, Tokyo International Forum is one of the most famous event venues in Tokyo.  Unfortunately it may have been too big for this event.  I'm not sure whether this is standard practice for all orchestral concerts held there or was a Distant Worlds decision but the use of heavy amplification via only two speakers almost killed the experience.  Even sitting in a decent location (halfway back from the stage on ground level, just slightly left of center) no sound could be heard coming from the stage whatsoever, or even from the right speaker for that matter - just that huge left speaker in front of me.  Except for the occasional sound of sheet music rustling (and even that loses its novelty at 20,000 watts), the aural effect was akin to listening to a Final Fantasy CD in a big room with a really big, loud speaker - in mono.

As I didn't experience the same problem in the similarly large Pacifico Yokohama hall for the FFVI concert (played by an amateur orchestra no less) I can't help but think the concert producers dropped the ball here.  I don't consider myself a seasoned classical concert-goer, but the lack of that live sound sapped a large amount of fun out of the experience.

Overall Impression:

Despite the poor sound setup I found myself still enjoying the concert, especially the second act, though with a bit more investment in the arrangements and the visuals the show could have been better.  I'm glad I didn't miss out this time around but I came away with little desire to see the second Tokyo show.

For Final Fantasy and game music fans who haven't experienced many orchestral concerts I'm sure the Distant Worlds events will impress, but even occasional classical concert-goers may want to take good consideration of the venue before buying tickets or making long road trips to see the show.  The addition of quite a bit of new material to the program is encouraging though, and I hope we get to hear all of it on a Distant Worlds 3 album release sometime soon.

First Half Program: 7 / 10
Second Half Program: 8 / 10
Orchestral Performance: 8 / 10
Venue: 5 / 10
Overall: 7 / 10

Cedille Dec 31, 2012

I just came back from tonight's concert. The set up was the same as Adam's, but it appears the audience at 26th's concert was less exuberant than expected, and in the introduction, Uematsu did ask us to express our enthusiasm freely by clapping or shouting "bravo". As a result, the audience response tonight was basically fanatic every time when one performance session was over. The concert was pretty good. FFXIII and FFXIV's performances were especially remarkable. My seat was decent (the center, and slightly behind where special guests like Yoko Shimomura sat). The only complaint of mine was the selection of some tracks. f--- OWA, seriously.

Adam Corn May 1, 2013

Added the following upcoming concert dates:

11/23: Miami, USA
07/27: Hong Kong, China
07/18: San Diego, USA
06/20: Buenos Aires, Argentina
06/15: Vienna, Austria
06/14: ""
06/08: Atlanta, USA
06/07: ""

James O May 1, 2013

The Celebration concert from Japan (Dec 31, 2012) will be coming out on blu-ray June 26.  If you order from the Squix e-store you'll get an exclusive bonus CD of the original game music.  It's 6500 yen, but at Amazon Japan it's discounted right now.

Adam Corn Jun 6, 2013

The official Japanese site for the Distant Worlds: The Celebration blu-ray has a few YouTube clips of the contents: … /tracklist

The disc has 19 tracks in all (including the two encores) and apparently is recorded from the second Tokyo show on Dec. 31, 2012.  It seems you can choose between video of the orchestra or of the video accompaniment while listening.

Adam Corn Jun 19, 2013

Looking at this Distant Worlds The Celebration blu-ray release it looks like a far better buy than the recent FF Orchestral Album.  Virtually every noteworthy new or rare arrangement on Orchestral Album is also included here (FFIV "The Dreadful Fight", FFV "Main Theme", FFVI extended opera, FFXII "The Dalmasca Estersand", the series battle medley), with only the rare FFI-III 2004 medley missing.  Whereas missing from Orchestral Album but included in The Celebration are FFIX "You're Not Alone" (far more interesting than OA's "Unfulfilled Feelings"), the enjoyable FFXI medley "Procession of Heroes ~ Vana’diel March Medley", and most importantly of all the epic Susan Calloway-performed FFXIV "Answers".

Also whereas Orchestral Album is half recycled performances from previous albums, The Celebration is all original performances from the night of the concert.  Not to mention you actually get video from the concert to warrant the choice of blu-ray format.  (Still bugs me that they won't include a regular audio CD in the package though.)

I won't drop 6500 yen on it till I find out how well the recording turns out but it has me curious.

Qui-Gon Joe Jun 19, 2013

Adam Corn wrote:

(Still bugs me that they won't include a regular audio CD in the package though.)

I'm a little irritated by Square doing this with several releases.  Seriously, the new FFXIV compilation isn't coming out on CD?  I just want to listen to music, not turn on my TV/PS3 and play through that!  sad

James O Jun 19, 2013

The Before Meteor blu-ray will have mp3s on the disc.  I haven't seen anything saying Celebration blu-ray will contain mp3's.

Adam Corn Jun 19, 2013

I don't have a blu-ray drive on my computer.

I'm aware there are hoops that can be jumped through to get blu-ray audio as lossless flac files.  I just don't think I should have to.

Qui-Gon Joe Jun 19, 2013 (edited Jun 19, 2013)

Adam Corn wrote:

I'm aware there are hoops that can be jumped through to get blu-ray audio as lossless flac files.  I just don't think I should have to.

So much this.

I have a wall-mounted CD player on the main floor of my house (yay Muji!).  Step 1: Remove CD from shelf.  Step 2: Stick onto CD player.  Step 3: Play.  This is all it should really take.  I don't want to deal with ripping and all that BS when I already have a much, much simpler way of playing music without even turning my computer on.

LiquidAcid Jun 20, 2013

Well, if you don't have a setup with a BluRay drive connected to a hifi system, then this release obviously isn't for you. I've got a drive in my audioserver for quite some time now, which I mostly use for decryption and streaming to some other system, but for me it would be just the three steps Qui-Gon Joe described in his post. It all depends on your hardware I guess.

James O Jun 20, 2013

I have no problem with these releases being on blu-ray either.  The way I listen to music is the same as others... put in disc, play, listen, enjoy.

Zane Jun 20, 2013

Qui-Gon Joe wrote:

Step 1: Remove CD from shelf.  Step 2: Stick onto CD player.  Step 3: Play.  This is all it should really take.


Adam Corn Aug 10, 2013

So did anybody get the Distant Worlds The Celebration blu-ray?  Thoughts on how the performance and recording compare to the Final Fantasy Orchestral Album versions?

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