The New World Players chamber ensemble performs the music of Final Fantasy

On Saturday, March 19, Rackham Auditorium hosted the New World Players Chamber Ensemble’s performance titled “A New World: Intimate Music from ‘Final Fantasy'”. The small orchestra was conducted by conductor Eric Roth, who received his BA from the University of Michigan. .

“Final Fantasy” is a popular fantasy media franchise known for its 15+ different episodes of the “Final Fantasy” video game series. Although separate versions of the games feature new settings and storylines, they retain a few central characters and a similar storyline of emotionally driven heroes defeating an evil force. The original game was released in 1987, and it still attracts a huge community of loyal fans today. As a result, the “Final Fantasy” franchise has earned over $11.7 billion in sales, making it one of the highest-grossing video game franchises to ever exist.

The music for “Final Fantasy” was also a big standalone hit. Video game fans and music historians turn to Nobuo Uematsu‘s scores as a case study in what it takes to change an industry. Many games at the time had simple designs, like the Pac-Man theme, but Uematsu’s intricate work provided lush instrumentation within the limited technology of the time, raising the standard of video gaming. the music.

As someone who was not previously familiar with the game or the music of “Final Fantasy”, I was disappointed that there were no programs for this event. I would have liked to know more about the music, especially the context of each song in the franchise. The lack of a schedule, however, didn’t seem to affect “Final Fantasy” fans in the audience who were already familiar with the music. Between each piece, Roth cracked a few jokes or introduced the title of the next work; he was greeted each time with cheers from the audience. Even when he didn’t state the name of a song, the crowd cheered and exclaimed something like “I like this one” in the early stages.

The musical selection ranged from catchy, catchy melodies to more poignant slow ballads. The tracks were selected from across the franchise, with the most songs from “Final Fantasy VIII”. Roth explained that the ensemble changed repertoire throughout their “Final Fantasy” tour. Although some of the more ballad-like pieces used classical styling techniques, it was obvious that this was not your traditional, full-bodied classical music. Without the nostalgia and positive association with the Final Fantasy players’ music, I felt the music was missing something, like there was some level of superficiality in every arrangement. Still, the pieces were enjoyable overall, not least because of the variety of concert repertoire. “One-Winged Angel,” from “Final Fantasy VIII,” was particularly gripping, harboring quick and unexpected melodic shifts that kept me engaged. But, with the many opportunities for people to see much cheaper orchestral concerts in Ann Arbor, I don’t think the $50 ticket is worth it for many “Final Fantasy” laymen.

After the final piece and the highly anticipated encore, audience members seemed energized – excited and moved by the music they had just heard. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a big lineup for “Final Fantasy” merchandise being sold in Rackham’s lobby.

“A New World: Intimate Music from ‘Final Fantasy'” is just one example of the many multimedia entertainment experiences that have become popular in the early 21st century. Fusing internet culture and fine art, concerts like this show how each of these expressive forces shape each other. Ann Arbor has been fortunate to host this kind of event, one that I imagine will become more and more popular in the future.

Everyday Arts contributor Nicole Appiani can be reached at nappiani@umich.edu.

About Roy B. Westling

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