Earlier this weekend, on June 10, Los Angeles was in for a real treat, as the world premiere for the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour kicked off. The Dolby Theater, home to prestigious events such as the Academy Awards, was the location to be able to host the showing, which brought fans from all over the world.
Now, I was never a symphony person. I am a musician by trade and play the piano. I’ve done so for eighteen years now. A lot of my opinions towards symphonies changed when I attended last year’s Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions, produced by Princeton Entertainment and led by creative minds Jeron Moore and Chad Seiter. I mean, it’s a video game symphony, what could be special about that, right? Here’s an excerpt from my experience at that showing last year:
“Naturally, I’m a critic for this kind of stuff. I look for high production values and entertainment value above all else in these events, and Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions had all of it and then some. The effort involved with producing and editing in the video clips for this is entirely evident. Even the humorous clips where the trainer’s Pokémon used a non-effective attack, it felt organic and similar to mistakes we made in our own play throughs. When the music stopped, the footage stopped right on cue, not a second late or early. Much credit has to be provided to Jeron Moore, Chad Seiter, and Brian Costa for making something like this entirely possible from the music that they brought out of a handheld title/franchise.”
This was actually a process that changed me, because I wanted to go out there and see more of these. I decided to come out to the Kingdom Hearts event, even though I wasn’t fluent in the lore of the game, because there were some tracks that I absolutely adored from the franchise.
Fans were treated to surprise appearances from leading composer Yoko Shimomura (also the same composer for much of Final Fantasy XV) and Tetsuya Nomura, and enthused when a new trailer unveiled, related to the ever-elusive Kingdom Hearts III. Said fans were enraptured by the opener of Hikari/Simple and Clean and mystified by the other songs in the franchise, which included battle medleys and character themes among some very emotional set pieces.
Something like this is best experienced with a narrative guiding the listening experience, and the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour did not disappoint. The visuals put together, which featured the high-quality visuals from the various remakes of the titles in the franchise, put together a simplified version of the story for fans to digest, while still remaining very true to the emotions elicited during the game. The orchestra at the Dolby did an excellent job and the production team behind this put together a wonderful narrative. Just as the quality for Symphonic Evolutions was top-notch, this symphony and its production are just as great.
I’m starting to very much enjoy these events, and I’m glad I had a little bit of time to go out and see it. All thanks to Jeron Moore and the folks at Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions for getting me started into this stuff, but it’s times like these where you truly feel that video games can really be an art form, and it’s times like these where you understand why video gaming entertainment is a multibillion dollar industry. There are some truly dedicated fans who come from all walks of life, in all kinds of costumed pageantry from suits to full cosplay of characters. It’s these types of events that bring the wonders and joys of the games industry together, and it’s a night I won’t soon forget.