Smudge and I both enjoy soundtracks for a lot of our music listening. I don’t have a lot of music interest in my background, and have only been to a couple of very small concerts for any real live listening. Smudge on the other hand has a big background in that. We also are general Final Fantasy fans, and the series has a lot of great soundtracks. The big, full orchestral, concerts for Final Fantasy music (Distant Worlds) is a bit out our price range.

So, last week, we attended the A New World concert in Berkeley, which is designed for an 11-instrument ensemble, smaller venues, and more reasonable ticket prices. This was basically a birthday present for Smudge, and of course Baron came too, along with Mark. Mark has no background in the series (except I gave him the short history over lunch a bit ago), but thought it sounded interesting, and enjoyed himself.

The hall at the UC Berkeley campus had me wondering if we were really going to an Alexander raid:

The concert had a false start, as the timing was off. The conductor stopped them, turned around, bowed to us and said “Live music.” Then restarted the piece. They opened with what’s officially translated as “A Place to Call Home”, but I still know of as “The Place I’ll Return to Someday”, which is more unwieldy, but gives a better sense of the nostalgia at the heart of FF IX. That crashed directly into “Force Your Way”, and then the conductor gave a small talk about how happy they were to be there, and finished with, “I love Berkeley!” (it turns out he is something of an East Bay native), turned around and they did the “Victory Theme.”

After that, my memories are a lot more muddled, as there was no program to help keep track, and I only took notes later. But they played another twelve pieces before an intermission. Then came another ten, and the very inventively done “Chocobo Medley” as an encore. I’ve reconstructed what they played as best I could (taken from the A New World CDs, with stand-ins for the more recent parts of the repertoire):

In all, there was at least one piece from each numbered FF title (which has to be a heck of a balancing act), with VIII taking the lead with three different pieces. The “Chocobo Medley” was even sillier than I expected, having already heard it, as the conductor joined in with the slide whistle.

There was a concession table, and between us, Smudge and I got the two A New World CDs, the second and third Distant Worlds CDs (we already have the first one), and the Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward soundtrack (they had a number of the main soundtracks there, most of which I already have; FF XV was the main leftover temptation). It was just a table with no line and one person… it could use a little more organization. Mark also got the first A New World disk, mostly for “The Decisive Battle”; he seemed to be liking the battle themes the most.

Going home was a bit rough as the escape garage defeated attempts to do the right thing. The usual pay, get a ticket, stick it in the machine on the way out. But it was complaining of an error and not taking tickets. The answer was to hit the intercom button for help, whereupon the arm immediately goes up and you leave. So there was a lot of delays as everyone had to figure that out for themselves….