Audun: So Final represents more than just Final Fantasy in name, this will be sort of the finale to the Symphonic series. How did you come to the decision to finalize it with this concert?
Thomas: It just felt right. It’s difficult to come up with all new arrangements every single year, new concepts. We have been doing this for over 10 years. Final Fantasy has been the most popular request from the fans, so the decision wasn’t hard to make. Who knows what will happen in the future, but this is the final of this series, and we’ll see what happens from there.
Audun: There are 3 concerts, 2 in Germany, and one in London, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Thomas: Yeah, so like with the Tokyo show, we are finally able to achieve something we always wanted to do. I don’t know if the impact will be as emotional as Tokyo was, but I have a feeling it will. For me as a producer, this is a very big deal. I have been a lifelong fan of the London Symphony Orchestra, and being able produce their first live video game music concert is quite special.
Audun: I remember the very first time I met you, we spoke about the London Symphony Orchestra and wanting to have them perform a concert by you.
Thomas: (Laughs) it’s been on my mind for years. It took some time, but I been doing my best to make it happen. Finally!
Audun: How do you go about to differentiate yourself from the other Final Fantasy productions, including your own past works, though?
Thomas: Well this goes back to Fantasies really, where Uematsu said he would really like to see something similar to what we did with Mana. So what we are doing are longer pieces, deeper storytelling and also selecting music pieces that might surprise you. I have consulted Distant World in the past and I am a big supporter of the other productions out there, but we want to offer the fans something they really never heard before, and have them remember this night for the rest of their lives. Focusing on only 3 games, VI, VII and X, allows us to really look deeper into those games and make some new experiences.
Audun: Jonne, what can the fans expect from this concert?
Jonne: Well I hope they won’t stone me to death afterwards. (Laughs). Well I tried to be very logical, very provocative. All the story points are underlined with an importance, and the stories of these games are surprisingly dark, very black at times. So I’m trying to really bring out both the darkest moments as well as the heart. Please keep an open mind when hearing it, and don’t get too depressed please.
Audun: What about you, Roger?
Roger: I wanted to bring out a lot more than I had ever brought out of a game before. Working on a game like Final Fantasy VI, it’s really heartbreaking because the characters and their themes are so great, and sometimes you have to exclude a piece, remove small things here and there, but it has so much meaning and they are so well written in the original. So this has really been the most difficult work so far, but I hope the fans will leave satisfied.
Audun: Gentlemen, we have been here discussing 10 years, and there are so many memories and moments to share. What do you guys want to say to the fans going onwards?
Thomas: I want to thank the fans from around the world for their support and feedback. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, the fact that we were able to make you react and discuss with us your opinion is great, and I am blessed to have met so many incredible people and fans. I hope to see you at Final Symphony, and I hope in the future, I will see new concept come from you guys to excite me!
Jonne: I would just like to thank everyone for being honest and always coming up to me and saying heartwarming things. I am only an arranger in my mind, but people are always very excited to talk and discuss the music with me, and I really love the fans.
Roger: You guys already said everything I could say so I will just sound like a broken record (laughs). But of course, we do this for the fans, and Final Symphony is for you guys. I hope you will like it.
Final Symphony made its debut at the Wuppertal Stadthalle in Germany on May 11th, and finally made its impact at the Barbican Centre in London on May 30th. It marked the first time the illustrious London Symphony Orchestra performed video game music live, and across 3 sold out concerts in Germany and the United Kingdom, over 5000 fans gave over 10 minutes of standing ovation for the historic event. A new concert, titled Symphonic Selections has been announced and will take place in November 2013 in Cologne, Germany.
Thank you to Thomas Böcker, Jonne Valtonen and Roger Wanamo for participating.
Photos by Philippe Ramakers (Intuitive Fotografie).