Howie listens to Symphonic Fantasies London

Tonight, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), conducted by Eckehard Stier, played a wonderful concert at the Barbican Centre, titled Symphonic Fantasies London, which saw the world class orchestra perform a medley of pieces from four classic Square Enix series: Kingdom HeartsSecret of ManaChrono Trigger / Chrono Cross, and Final Fantasy. The orchestra was joined by the London Symphony Chorus (LSC) with David Lawrence as chorus master, as well as soloists Slava Sidorenko on the piano, and Rony Barrak on the darbouka.

Programme for Symphonic Fantasies London.

Being an avid gamer and a musician, I notice a lot about the music of computer games and how it adds to any given moment within a game’s plot, and having gone to a few video game music concerts already, I always manage to get transported to those iconic moments in any game by the orchestra, and certainly the LSO’s performance of music from Square Enix’s titles were no different. If I thought I was impressed by the LSO’s performance of Final Symphony II at the Barbican Centre on 12 September 2015, I was absolutely blown away by the concert tonight.

The addition of the LSC to the mix gave the performance a lot more depth, and allowed the music to be explored from a totally different angle, for example, using the LSC’s singers to replicate the sound effect of rain and storm for the Secret of Mana medley.

The music of Kingdom Hearts and Secret of Mana, though iconic, was soon over taken in the second half of the concert by the medleys of music from Chrono Trigger / Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy. Being an avid Final Fantasy player, you may all think me to be slightly biased, but I genuinely thought the arrangement for the Final Fantasy section in tonight’s concert was beyond expectations and by far the best arrangement of the evening. It certainly made the musical geek inside me squeal with delight as I sat there in the stalls.

The harp prelude gave way to the ever joyful chocbo theme, which then proceeded to give way to big and bold battle themes, with a hint of the chocobo’s theme in the background in a different key to give some comic relief. But it was the finale of the Final Fantasy section which blew me away, as the woodwind section shared responsibility for the main theme of the series, beginning in a minor key before transitioning to a major key into the recognised version of the theme, then handing the motif over to the violins before the violins gave the main theme motif to the LSC singers.

With an encore of Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII medley which was not listed in the programme, the LSO, LSC, and the soloists truly deserved the full house standing ovation which they received at the end of the concert.

Very much looking forward to the next concert!