Hiroaki Yura Interview: A Night in Fantasia 2009 (February 2009)
In September 26, 2009, the concert A Night in Fantasia 2009 will occur at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Australia. The concert revives the Eminence Symphony Orchestra's long-running concert series dedicated to performing symphonic arrangements of famous video game and anime music.
On the day of the concert launch, Eminence founder and virtuoso violinist Hiroaki Yura reveals to us many details about the concert in this interview. He gives the first information about the concert listings, special guests, and approaches to performance and arrangement as well as even news on an album release. Tickets for this one-time event will go on sale at the official site shortly.
Interview Subject: Hiroaki Yura
Interviewer: Chris Greening
Editor: Chris Greening
Coordination: Chris Greening
Chris: First of all, thank you for exclusively talking to us today. Could you introduce the A Night in Fantasia 2009 to us and tell us what it's all about?
Hiroaki Yura: A Night in Fantasia 2009 is the latest instalment in Eminence's flagship concert and features symphonic music from anime and video games. Whereas A Night in Fantasia 2007 uniquely split the anime and video game component, we have decided to put them back together this year.
Chris: Eminence's fans were quite surprised that you did not make any concerts in 2008. What inspired you to revive the A Night in Fantasia series in 2009?
Hiroaki Yura: We simply did not have much time in our hands to create A Night in Fantasia 2008. With so many high profile recordings, such as Diablo III, Valkyria Chronicles, and Soul Calibur IV, on top of our project Echoes of War, we hardly have had enough time to do anything else. Another reason is we would like to always outdo ourselves every time we do a concert. With the level of feat we achieved in 2007, and with so much time constraint in 2008, we lacked confidence to really outdo ourselves this time round.
Chris: There will be a range of game music pieces chosen from Western and Eastern titles. Can you elaborate on what we should expect from the program?
Hiroaki Yura: You can expect a very balanced program in terms of program selection this year. When you will see music from Shadow of the Colossus, you can also expect to see God of War. When you hear Prince of Persia, you can expect to hear Mario. When you hear Valkyria Chronicles, you may expect Red Alert 3. I can't announce the full program, but hopefully you see what I'm trying to get at. You can definitely expect something a lot different from us compared to the concert in 2007 with a lot of variety involved in many respects. Unfortunately in terms of anime, we will be only drawing from what Japan has produced.
Chris: It seems that many of the game music pieces chosen will be inspired by epic cinematic music. Would you agree this is a defining feature of the concert? Do you think the concert will be a diverse one nonetheless?
Hiroaki Yura: The concert will be diverse but "epic" seems to be the keyword in all that we will do this year. I prefer diversity in our concert series as we then tend to appreciate many aspects of music. If we go "epic" all the way through and don't add items like Mario, we then forget what "non-epic" music sounds like... or even the appreciation of what real "epic" music may sound like as there is nothing to compare it against. Then again, is it not "epic" for a full symphony orchestra to make the most softest yet intense sound?
Chris: It seems there will be a lot of anime favourites in the concert too. What items should we expect?
Hiroaki Yura: Although our program is not set, we have picked some Studio Ghibli's old favourites. Also, we will be inserting works that we've done such as The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk. We are also still working on some copyright clearance for some titles. What we'd like to do is music from Gundam SeeD, Haruhi, and One Piece. Some of you (well, those of who haven't checked the site's biographies at least!) may be surprised to find many well known game composers are responsible for these composition and arrangements.
Chris: We're curious to learn what the scores themselves will be like. Will you be offering new arrangements or mostly performing the original music? What type of approach should we expect from the arrangements — conventional or expansive?
Hiroaki Yura: Most scores, hopefully, will be an original arrangement. I would say these arrangements are expansive, yet very true to the original composer's intent. For example, Inon Zur will be arranging his own work for us; he will be putting together four or five tracks into one seamless short Symphonic Episodes. The rest of the arrangement will be led by Shiro Hamaguchi, who is well known for the orchestrator, arranger, and additional composition of Final Fantasy, primarily the works of Nobuo Uematsu. The best Japan can offer!
Chris: The Eminence Symphony Orchestra has a strong reputation for its concert performances in the past. How many will involved in performing this concert? Will your conductor Philip Chu return to lead them?
Hiroaki Yura: Philip will continue to conduct the Eminence Symphony Orchestra. It will be a full symphony and are currently attempting to organise an extremely large choir. Very large. So large, I don't think I can count them all.
Chris: Could you tell us about any guest performers on the concert? Will there be special guests like in your previous concerts?
Hiroaki Yura: There will be guests in addition to whom we've already confirmed, namely Inon Zur, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Cris Velasco. However, we intend to announce several others over the coming weeks/months. In terms of guest performers, we are in dialogue with two people; hopefully they will agree to come and perform at our concert.
Chris: In addition to this concert, it sounds like Eminence has quite a few 2009 projects on the go. Are you able to tell us anything about them?
Hiroaki Yura: None whatsoever! I am at no liberty to speak of them as many extend way beyond 2009 and I am under NDA on many projects. There are a few things already announced such as the DVD-CD release for the The Tower of Druaga anime, but that's about all.
Oh hang on, yes I can tell you ONE exclusive thing. On April 29 in Tokyo, Philip Chu will be conducting the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra for a classical concert from music based on The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I will be performing as a soloist. The arrangement will be led by Shiro Hamaguchi once again.
Chris: Looking ahead to the future, is there a possibility of an album release for A Night in Fantasia 2009? I'm sure many fans would love that.
Hiroaki Yura: I'm delighted to say that there will be a double disc studio recording of selected pieces from the concert. One disc will be dedicated to anime while the other will feature video game arrangements. There will also be a special DVD featuring video footage live from the concert, a behind the scenes look at the production, and interviews with special guests and artists.
Chris: Thanks once again for talking to us today. Do you have any final words to say about the concert?
Hiroaki Yura: No problem. It's going to be great, so buy a ticket to Sydney, and come and enjoy the concert! Keep checking this site and our official site for more. I am sure both will be putting up a steady stream of updates.