Kingdom Hearts music is beautiful enough, but in an orchestral experience, it’s even more amazing.
Managing Editor of Games and Technology, Clinton Bowman, and I were granted a chance to see the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour in New York at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights. While I’m not the biggest Kingdom Hearts fan out there, the music and performance that was done by Yoko Shimomura and the orchestra is a experience you have to go experience yourself. It rekindled my memories and time with Kingdom Hearts 2, and just how magical the entire series is.
*Warning. There will be some spoilers for the Kingdom Hearts game if you had not played it*
First, some tips for those attending any video game based orchestra concert.
1: Dress however you want. While an orchestra generally requires formal attire, just go with whats comfortable. I’ve seen attendees come in full cosplay, gaming shirts and casual outfits to represent their appreciation for the game. So don’t worry if you feel under dressed or out of place. So as long as your love the game and appreciate the arts, that’s all that matters.
2: Bring Money. As with any venue, there will be unique items and shirts to buy at the venue. Naturally it will cost you a pretty penny. If you want to get the basics, like the program book, it will put at $40. If you cannot attend or want to avoid the lines, there is an online shop for these items which is at the Kingdom Hearts shop at www.khshop.wildfaery.com.
3: Note If the Venue Has AC. Bring some paper towels or a hand towel with you. If there is no air condition and only mechanical fans present, get ready to sweat it out. There will be a lot of people there, so it’s going to get hot real quick. There was a moment in which someone turned off the fans to allow us to hear the orchestra. I’m sorry, but we need those fans to stay sane and not keel over.
Now with that out of the way, lets get to the show itself.
The show started off with the orchestral version Hikari (Light/Simple and Clean), the main theme for the series. You will immediately know this song if you grew up during the late 2000’s when Utada Hikaru’s released this song with Kingdom Hearts 2. Listening, it did bring back memories all those times I played and how it just stuck to my head and downloading the song after. Alongside the orchestral performance, they played cut-scenes from the games in the series. This song and the rest of the pieces played is just simply great nostalgia and memory invoking for those who have played or appreciated the series all these years. This also applies to The World Of Kingdom Hearts. When I heard that famous Mickey Mouse theme , I was singing along with M-I-C-K-E-Y. This piece is when you first come to Disney Castle and meet the famed characters of Mickey, Minnie and the Disney crew. Regardless with the connection to Kingdom Hearts, you have to give respect to Disney.
The songs composed in the concert are as followed:
- Hikari -KINGDOM Orchestra ver.-
- Dearly Beloved – KH II ver.-
- Organization XIII
- Twinkle Twinkle Holidays
- Treasured Memories
- The World of KINGDOM HEARTS
- Fate of the Unknown
- Heroes and Heroine: Character Medley
- Threats of the Land: KINGDOM HEARTS Battle Medley
- Lazy Afternoons At Dusk, I Will Think Of You…
- Vector to the Heavens
- Wave of Darkness
- Daybreak Town: The Heart of χ
- The Other Promise
- Let Darkness Assemble: Final Boss Battle Medley
(Source via Concert Program)
This selections spans throughout all the games, from Birth by Sleep, 358/2 Days, and Coded. If you have played any games at all from the series, including the mobile game that was released, then you already have an appreciation for the song pieces in this list.
A song that was especially invoking and tear jerking is The Other Promise, namely in Kingdom Hearts 2. This song describes Roxas very well. Questioning you own existence, only to find out that you are not suppose to exist but belong to the mind of the one who created you, namely Sora. If you played the games, you saw how he was in Organization 13 and the life he went through. From the time of making friendships with Axel and Xion, to finding out the truth of his identity of a Nobody, and reuniting with Sora in the end. How would you feel that all the things you’ve experienced: the laughs, friendships, sensations and all things that life gives, all to vanish with your awareness that suppose to belongs to another? The orchestra brought the strings and the Piano keys to emphasize this piece. The somber mood that is combined with the situation and the instruments, really makes you feel for the character.
A great surprise that was shown after the intermission period is that they showed off the E3 trailer of Kingdom Hearts 3, but this version had extended gameplay. But even more, at then end of the trailer, it was announced that the next gameplay trailer will be shown on July 15 at the D23 Expo. Hopefully a pending release window, though I’m not holding my breath on it.
Naturally, we have the guest of honor and the main composer of Kingdom Hearts herself, Yoko Shimomura. In the begging and near ending of the concert, she expressed her thanks and gratitude for all of the fan’s support and affection for the series. For the encore, she herself would perform the Piano for the last song of the night, Passion -KINGDOM Orchestra ver-.
(Courtesy to Jenny Li)
Passion is equal in representing the series as with Hikari. In this version, the piano is emphasized and Shimomura’s performance only elevates the piece even further. The energy from the vocals from the chorus, the percussion of the drums, and the strings working in tandem, it really is hard to describe the emotions and feelings that it stirs up. While the original from Utada Hikaru is a great performance, there is always something about and Orchestral version and seems to amplify the resonance of the original.
Honestly, my words really does no justice in describing the experience of this concert. I had goosebumps when Hikari was played. The song of Heroes and Heroines medley stirred up the nostalgia that reminded me of the Disney World and the adventures that took place in them. From Winnie the Pooh, Mickey and Final Fantasy, you will feel a sense of wonder, remembrance, melancholy and many other emotions. This concert only makes me anticipate the songs that will be in Kingdom Hearts 3. Regardless if you are a fan or not, if you can attend this concert, by all means do so. I feel that the opening quote from Sora in Kingdom Hearts 2 describes the setting concert well:
A scattered dream that’s like a far off memory. A far off memory that’s like a scattered dream. I want to line the pieces up, yours and mine.
Simply, The Kingdom Hearts Orchestra is a moment in time that will fill your heart with light.