Thomas Boecker Interview: Recollecting Symphonic Shades (October 2008)
Across the next few weeks, we will publish a series of English translations of interviews with those involved with Symphonic Shades - Huelsbeck in Concert. The German versions of the interviews can be read at the official website for the concert.
Thomas Boecker is a respected producer who has worked on the Symphonic Game Music Concert series, Merregnon trilogy, and Drammatica. He reflects on his role as the producer of Symphonic Shades.
Q: Mr. Boecker, how do you feel about your latest achievement in the world of video game music concerts?
A: Actually I could not be happier with the result. It was an incredible evening full of memories, full of emotions. Symphonic Shades is one of the concerts that I would love to get fully performed again. For me it was the best production of my career.
Q: You were talking about the quality of the arrangements. Did they live up to your expectations?
A: Absolutely. Words hardly can describe my feelings when I heard these arrangements live. Stunning! Mr Valtonen did an amazing job. Thank you very much, Jonne! Of course I would like to give credit to the conductor, the orchestra, the choir, and the soloists, too — without their great skills the music would not have been so touching. I was very impressed about their dedication and professionalism.
Q: It is an odd question, but what was your favorite title of the concert? Could you tell us why?
A: I will have to use the standard answer then: Everything was great! Every time I am listening to it I am finding a 'favorite', though, probably depending on my current mood. Right at this moment I would say X-Out, because of its superb orchestra and choir work, and the general modern approach of the orchestration. I have no problem in admitting that I was in tears when hearing the piece live for the first time.
Q: What was the atmosphere like during the concert? Were you able to experience it with the audience?
A: I was helping the stage managers, so unfortunately I could not experience the concert together with the audience. However, I could get an idea about the atmosphere nevertheless, and I would describe it as 'unbelievable'. It was an evening that I will never forget in my life. No wonder that the orchestra musicians asked for more video game music, and more video game music fans, as the appreciation coming from the audience is so motivating, so strong.
Q: Nobuo Uematsu was guarded by two bodyguards in Stockholm during a PLAY! concert. In Cologne, on the other hand, the arrangers, artists, and even Mr Huelsbeck were free to walk around and nobody annoyed them. Did you expect such a harmony?
A: While we had several bodyguards, it is right that we allowed a lot of freedom to everybody. It was our goal to make it a concert where all people involved, no matter if composers, arrangers, soloists, or fans, could talk freely, to share impressions and to tell opinions. It was the first video game music concert for the orchestra musicians, so it was such an interesting experience for them to go into conversations with the fans.
Q: Did you feel any more pressure because of the fact that the concert was broadcasted live on radio?
A: At first I did indeed, but once the concert started, I somehow forgot about that fact due to the competent work of everybody involved in the production. It all went smoothly, and I felt that these people were so professional and experienced that I would not have to worry for a single second.
Q: Have you received much feedback from fans around the world about the radio broadcast? What about those who haven't listened to game music previously?
A: We got so much praise and feedback — the WDR never got so much of fan e-mails before, actually! I think that we succeeded in bringing video game music to people who usually do not listen to this genre, and as mentioned previously, it was our goal to show to the world what video game music means.
Q: Can you tell us about the CD release? How is it going and what is the release date?
A: We hope for a release November/December 2008. We are pretty far in development in terms of the CD booklet, and the edit and mix of the music will start shortly.
Q: You are working with the WDR on a new concert project for 2009 already. Is there anything you can tell our readers about it?
A: As Mr Fechner of the WDR recently announced, there will be a big video game music concert on September 12, 2009 at the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne, Germany. It will feature Arnie Roth as the conductor again, the WDR Radio Orchestra and choir, and Rony Barrak. More than 120 musicians on stage. Jonne Valtonen will be the main arranger of all the music again — it is a real dream team!