Columbus fans of role-playing video game franchise “Final Fantasy” are about to have another outlet for their love of the game.
“Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy,” a concert featuring music spanning 25 years of “Final Fantasy” music, is scheduled to be performed in Columbus for the first time 3 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Theatre, located at 55 E. State St.
Conductor and Grammy Award winner Arnie Roth said concert-goers should expect to be impressed at the show.
“This particular show involves a huge orchestra on stage with a widescreen, high-definition video montage that is suspended over the orchestra,” Roth said. “With every piece of music that we play, there is some reference video from each of the songs and scores.”
The show will feature the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, composed of 100 symphony musicians, a choir and soloists.
The “Final Fantasy” franchise began with the first game’s release December 1987, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
“The concerts that we put on, ‘Distant Worlds,’ generally involve as many scores from as many different versions of ‘Final Fantasy’ as we can squeeze into the performance time,” Roth said.
Roth has been involved with video game music concerts since 2004. His first “Final Fantasy” concert, titled “Dear Friends: Music From Final Fantasy,” around that time and was the first public concert of video game music in North America.
Roth has also been working with composer Nobuo Uematsu, who has scored most of the music from “Final Fantasy,” since that first tour in 2005.
“Distant Worlds” has been touring for about five years, Roth said, catering to different markets globally. This is the tour’s first stop in Columbus.
“It’s been quite a success. Fans all over the world are just unbelievable,” Roth said.
The Columbus show will feature elements that not all “Distant Worlds” concert-goers have been able to experience in the past.
“In this case, in Columbus for this concert, we’re doing a couple very special things. We have a vocalist coming in, Susan Calloway,” Roth said. “She is the featured voice selected by Nobuo Uematsu himself for the latest version of ‘Final Fantasy,’ ‘Final Fantasy XIV.'”
Roth said the orchestra will also perform a piece it doesn’t often play.
“(The song) is called ‘Dark Worlds’ and it’s from ‘Final Fantasy VI.’ This is a piece that Nobuo Uematsu and I perform as soloists, live onstage with the orchestra,” Roth said. “He’s going to play keyboards and I’m going to play violin.”
While Bree Stack, a first-year in international studies, doesn’t play video games, she said the concert sounds like a cool experience.
“That’s awesome. I actually have some orchestra pieces from video games on my iPod. I would definitely go listen to something like that,” Stack said.
Gordon Crites, manager of Super Game Team, a video game resale shop located at 1724 Northwest Blvd., said role-playing games such as “Final Fantasy” don’t sell as well as they did when he entered the video game business in 2008.
“‘Final Fantasy’ sells OK, but we sell more of the Mario-type games here,” Crites said. “People like ‘Final Fantasy VI’ a lot, but it’s not a huge part of our business right now.”
While Crites said the sale of role-playing games have dropped off, “people who love ‘Final Fantasy’ love it a lot. Some people get real into it.”
Roth said he hopes to share the “Final Fantasy” music with as many Columbus fans as possible.
“We’re just really excited to be (in Columbus), and extremely excited that Nobuo Uematsu is coming with us,” Roth said. “To have that special guest in with us and to have him on stage performing with us is, I think, a real treat.”
Tickets for the show are available for $38 to $78, and VIP tickets, which offer premium seating and a meet and greet with Roth and Uematsu are available for $153. Tickets can be purchased at the Ohio Theatre’s ticket office, located at 39 E. State St., or at Ticketmaster outlets including ticketmaster.com.
Michael Periatt contributed to this story.