Final Fantasy is one of the longest-running and beloved franchises in gaming, with a rich history of iconic characters, imaginative worlds, and – perhaps most importantly – legendary music. So it’s no surprise that people would want to see Final Fantasy music performed live, which is exactly what I had the pleasure to do in Seattle, Washington.
On March 25, I had the pleasure of attending A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy, a live concert in celebration of the franchise’s 35th anniversary. Featuring new arrangements of classic Final Fantasy music, the event was full of nostalgia, cheers, and a sense of joy that’s fitting for the series’ iconic “Victory Fanfare.”
What Is A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy?
A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy is a roughly 90-minute live performance put on by the New World Players ensemble, featuring arrangements of music from the franchise. Conducted by Music Director Eric Roth, this event was produced by the same group that put on Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy: AWR Music Productions.
Distant Worlds has been performing since 2007, while A New World has been around since 2014. A New World primarily focuses on chamber music, meaning most instruments will only have one performer (at the event I went to, there were two violinists). Distant Worlds, on the other hand, is a full orchestra, meaning a bigger, grander sound.
A New World played songs like “Lenna’s Theme” from Final Fantasy V, “Zanarkand” from X, and “Serah’s Theme” from XIII, the last of which Roth provided vocals for while conducting. If you know what these songs sound like, it should come as no surprise to hear that most of the music was slower and more emotional, lending itself to the “intimate” that’s in the show’s title.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any more upbeat, higher-BPM music in the mix. “One-Winged Angel” and a fun medley of the Chocobo Themes come into play as well, the latter of which featured a very whimsical slide whistle. Overall, there was a great selection captured from the extensive Final Fantasy music catalog.
Between the songs, Roth would explain which games the songs came from, along with some colorful commentary to keep the mood light and fun. It’s very clear he has a passion for the franchise’s music, and he’s excited he gets to share that love with a room full of like-minded people.
How Does It Make Final Fantasy Music Feel Intimate?
The smaller chamber ensemble really lent itself to the intimacy that was promised in the title. You could see each musician as individuals, rather than nearly faceless members of a section. The way their attention moved from the sheet music to the conductor to their instruments gives you a kind of “inside” look at the talent on display.
Roth’s movements provided an essential function to the performers, but they felt like they were for the audience as well. It was as if he were expressing the feeling of each moment; he would jauntily march along to the beat or open his arms wide to let in all the memories.
It might be hard to imagine feeling a sense of intimacy in a room with more than a hundred strangers. It all really comes down to the Final Fantasy music that everyone is there to hear – and celebrate.
Music holds a lot of emotional power and information, often acting as good shorthand for understanding other people and identities. When you hear about someone who saw a concert last night, you immediately can imagine what sort of other concertgoers were there, simply based on your perception of the artist and genre.
That shared connection and understanding among friends and strangers really showcases the power video game music can have on our memories.
However, at a concert, everyone attends for a different reason. Maybe someone heard a song on the radio and grew to like the artist. Someone else might associate a song with a significant life event, deeply moving them when they hear it live. While everyone might not share the exact same memory, everyone is there to appreciate the music. The stories of why they like the music might be different, but the feelings are the same – and that’s one of the more beautiful parts of live music.
What makes A New World – and other video-game music concerts – stand out, however, is that a majority of the people in the room DO share your story. They were there at the ruins of Zanarkand, just like you, where the majestic, wistful piano etched itself into our collective memories. They were there when Sephiroth blew up half a solar system. They all know the whimsy of riding on a Chocobo for the first time.
It’s a special feeling, being in a room with fellow fans that are likely thinking of the exact same moments and feelings as you are. That shared connection and understanding among friends and strangers really showcases the power video game music can have on our memories. All it takes is a couple seconds of a melody to take you back to a moment.
TechRaptor attended A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy courtesy of tickets provided to media.