Here you go! To all of you who read this: Thanks so much for your time! It means a lot. I tried my best to put my memories of the event on paper.
Saturday, May 27th, Concert Day:
I line up outside the Rosemont Theatre at 5:00pm, with three hours until the show starts, and two hours until the doors open. A few fans join me in waiting a little later, and as we're all sitting there Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda walk out of the theater onlu several feet from us and continue walking across the street. I guess I was so shocked to see them I didn't bug them. I wanted to show them respect, after all, the meet and greet would be later.
7:00pm, doors open:
I get my first look at the merchandise on sale which includes a program book, Chrono Cross sheet music, Moonlit Shadow, Magic Pencil, and Sailing to the World CDs by Yasunori Misuda, More Friends Final Fantasy Shirts and CDs, and Play T-Shirts in Black and White. I spent $120.00 here!
It was all worth it.
8:00 pm: Showtime!
The concert began just about right on time at 8:00pm, and it was a packed theatre. Almost completely sold out. The crowd cheered wildly as all of the composers entered and took their seats. Once again Arnie Roth conducted, and he also did a fine job as MC for the event. The Chicagoland Pops Orchestra & the CPO Festival choir performed the music, with special guest percussionist Rony Barrak. Here's the set list:
1. Fanfare for Play! A Video Game Symphony (Nobuo Uematsu)
The theme for the event, composed by Nobuo Uematsu. I really like this, it has Uematsu's signature all over it.
You can hear it now by going to play-symphony.com.
2. Liberi Fatali (Final Fantasy VIII, Nobuo Uematsu)
The cinematic opening to Final Fantasy VIII, always great to hear live. There was nothing new to the arrangement, but I won't argue, it was fantastic!
3. New Super Mario Bros. Theme (Koji Kondo)
Koji Kondo himself took to the stage and gave us an absolutely wonderful rendition of the New Super Mario Bros. Theme on Piano. He looked so happy playing and he was really into it, swaying back and forth as he played.
4. Super Mario Bros. Suite (Koji Kondo)
An awesome orchestration of some of the best tunes from Mario's history. The original NES Mario music, as well as the underground and underwater themes were included, as well as others. The opening screen music from super Mario World, and the final lava level from Super Mario Bros. 3 was even played! The monitors showed footage from the NES Super Mario Bros. which garnered much applause, as well as Mario Sunshine and Mario 64.
5. Suite from Shenmue I & II (Takenobu Mitsuyoshi)
While I have never played these, I was familiar with some of the music, and this was an outstanding performance. The monitors showed some of the cinemas from the game.
6. Battlefield 1942 and Battlefiled 2 (Joel Eriksson, David Tallroth, Fredrik Englund, Jonas Ostholm, Bence Pajor)
My first time hearing music from both these games. Awesome cinemas from them were shown, and I really loved what I heard. What really stunned me was the awesome drum solo by percussionist Rony Barrak. He was incredible, and his face had crazy expressions on it as he performed.
7. Theme of Aeris (Final Fantasy VII, Nobuo Uematsu)
Can't go wrong here, always wonderfully performed live. Everyone loves Aeris at game music concerts I think!
8. Sonic the Hedgehog Suite (Masato Nakamura, arranged for this concert by Yuzo Koshiro)
This was awesome, and I knew it would be. Sonic arranged by Yuzo Koshiro? His presence here was basically why I came to the concert, hoping to finally meet the man whose music so inspires me. Some included songs were Green Hill Zone, Marble Zone, and Star Light Zone. This had Koshiro's touch definitely, it was unique and jumpy, and the melodies were perfect. Star Light Zone was so soothing. Awesome sonic intros from some of the new games were shown.
9. Metal Gear Solid Theme (Tappy Iwase, Kazuki Muraoka)
A truly classic piece of game music. This theme is so memorable, I hadn't heard it in a while, but once I did here, the notes jumped back into my mind. Some FMV from the game was shown on the monitor screens.
10. Kingdom Hearts I & II (Yoko Shimomura, Hikaru Utada)
While Shimomura was not here, she will be attending the Play concert in Detroit. This was wonderful to hear!
Trickles of the frist game were included, but the piece really focused on the theme of Kingdom Hearts II, called Passion. I loved this, and I would love to hear it again soon.
11. Kiss Me Goodbye (Final Fantasy XII, Angela Aki, Nobuo Uematsu)
Miss Angela Aki performed the Final Fantasy XII theme on piano and it has really grown on me. She has a really strong voice, and I can see her becoming a huge star soon. I saw her perform this at Tower Records the day before and had wanted to hear it again. Such a great song.
12. Eyes on Me (Final Fantasy VIII, Nobuo Uematsu, Faye Wong, Angela Aki as arranger here)
As she put it herself, this was the "Angela Aki Version" of the classic from Final Fantasy VIII previously performed by Faye Wong. This was incredible, she did an amazing job of transforming the song from a sentimental love piece to something smooth and with a faster pace. Again she played piano and the crowd loved it.
13. Suite from The Elder Scrolls III & IV: Morrowind and Oblivion (Jeremy Soule)
Awesome music from Jeremy Soule, man this was awesome, I was upset I hadn't played any of these games. This was my first time hearing music from these games.
14. Swing de Chocobo (Final Fantasy X, Nobuo Uematsu, Arnie Roth Arranger)
Everyone loved this. This is the swing version of the Chocobo Theme, and Arnie Roth arranged. This was like at the More Friends Concert, and the piece was jazzed up quite a bit.
15. Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross! (Yasunori Mitsuda)
Oh this was incredible! Songs included "To Far Away Times" and "Scars of Time". Frog's Theme was there too! Finally I was able to hear the openings from both Chrono games live. Rony Barrak joined again and played his drum wickedly for Chrono Cross.
16. World of Warcraft (Jason Hayes)
Awesome, Jason Hayes has made an excellent soundtrack to World of Warcraft and I was very familiar with it. A lot of the opening cinemas were shown and you could tell the cult following of the game by the roars of the crowd.
17. Silent Hill 2 (Akira Yamaoka)
Akira Yamaoka ROCKS!! He ran onto the stage and really took the place by storm. He really took in the moment, and was really behaving like a rock star. With his guitar, he can do no wrong.
The melody in this theme was unforgettable.
18. Halo Suite (Martin O'Donnell, Michel Salvatori)
One of the things I learned from this show was how wonderful the music is in some games I have yet to play. Halo is one of those games. Despite this being my first time hearing any music from Halo, I must say I was not ready for it. What a treat it was for me to hear an orchestra perform it too! Cinemas from the game were shown, and they fit really good with the music.
Mr. Arnie Roth remarked that he even played violin on some of the early recordings for the Halo soundtrack.
19. The Legend of Zelda (Koji Kondo)
Fans were begging for this long before the orchestra played it, and now it was finally time. The piece started out just like Ocarina of Time, and the Monitors even showed Link riding on his horse.
The original Themes from Zelda I & II were played, and of course the classic field theme as well. The dungeon theme from Zelda I was in there, and even the overworld theme from the dark world in A Link to the Past. I have wanted for so long to hear an orchestra perform this music, and I felt as if this moment was a gift.
20. Blue Dragon (Nobuo Uematsu)
A world premier of music From Hironobu Sakaguchi's upcoming game "Blue Dragon" with music by Nobuo Uematsu. I loved this, especially the cinemas, which were the same ones shown at E3 this year. It looks like an awesome game.
21. Finale, One Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII, Nobuo Uematsu)
I guess they couldn't help it, once again they closed a concert with this piece. I love it, I won't argue with them either. The choirs are always great to watch when they perform it. It's like they are about to actually summon Sephiroth or something! Though this was the final piece of the evening to a THREE HOUR CONCERT,
as an encore they performed it again mere moments later. What a way to end an unforgettable night.
Meet & Greet with the Composers!!!
My heart was actually beating fast, I was quite nervous.
However, after standing in line two hours, I finally got to meet all of the composers who were there. Finally I got to meet Yuzo Koshiro and tell him how much I love his music.
After I layed several very old CDs in front of him, he laughed, and asked me how I got all of them. I just told him the truth and said "internet auctions". He said he was only 22 when he did the music for Actraiser. It was now about 1:08 am, and every one of those composers was still there sigining for all of us. I was so happy Mr. Koshiro agreed to pose for a photograph with me. I was so starstruck I forgot to ask for a picture with any of the other composers! There was a ton of stuff I got signed. Even though later I heard there was a "one item per composer" rule, no one said any thing to me.
Jeremy Soule was even giving out free downloads of the complete Elder Scrolls IV Soundtrack, and I took more than a few at his request. They were even giving us free posters of the event too!
This was a night I will never forget. I made it back to my hotel close to 2:00 am and had enough time to order a room service meal. I was smiling the whole time. Thank you to Jason Michael Paul Productions and all the composers for all of your patience, and for making it happen. My apologies if I got a song or two out of order, it was a long night. I am relying on my memory and the program book for the proper order of songs played!
Me and my all-time favorite game music composer, Yuzo Koshiro!
Two children dressed like Mario & Luigi at the concert