Eckehard Stier

On Episode 69 of Limit Break Radio, Aniero Grigori had the pleasure to speak with Eckehard Stier, conductor of Final Symphony. Check out the video and transcription of the interview!

Aniero: You’re listening to Limit Break Radio. Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Aniero and joining us today, we’ve got a very special guest, Eckehard Stier, the conductor for Final Symphony. Eckehard, thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.

 

Eckehard: It’s my pleasure. You’re welcome. Greetings from Germany!

 

Aniero: So I’d like to ask you, how did you get involved with Final Symphony?

 

Eckehard: It’s quite interesting. I got invited to one CD production here in Cologne in Germany. It was quite long ago. It was 2008. I met for the first time of my life the producer of the whole Final Symphony concert, Thomas Böcker. The collaboration was from the very first moment, very fruitful, and a very nice collaboration. We’ve always got deeper and deeper involved in the Final Symphony world. I have to say, until today, I don’t know what happens in two months or three months, but until today, it’s absolutely fantastic.

 

Aniero: Your work speaks highly of itself. I’ve listened to Final Symphony on more than a few occasions and I’m a big fan of what you guys do.

 

Eckehard: Great!

 

Aniero: Tell me. Did you have any kind of context for the music going in or was this something that was entirely new to you in video game music?

 

Eckehard: To be honest, in 2008, I had no idea about anything from Final Fantasy, but of course, now I know all the characters. I know how the characters work in the game, but I’m not a gamer to be honest. I’m not a gamer, but I’m very, very close to the whole story especially if we play the big symphony in the second part of the concert. I know about the whole story of the game.

 

Aniero: What I find so interesting is that even though you may not have a first hand context of playing through these narratives, the emotive quality that you bring to the music itself is very reflective of what exists in the game. It really is very unique. Something that I noticed about specifically the Final Symphony compositions I think a lot of our listeners would be very familiar with similar acts, such as Distant Worlds, that have been touring through the United States for a long time. There is something distinct the way Final Symphony arranges the compositions. Even someone like me who does have very strong emotional connection to the music, I find myself being immersed in music and not necessarily getting lost, but being taken on an adventure through the music.

 

Eckehard: Wonderful!

 

Aniero: I think that it’s an amazing quality that you guys have been able to capture.

 

Eckehard: Yea, I’m only the last person in the whole row, because at the very first moment, we do have a little music which you are familiar with (Nobuo) Uematsu. Then, we have our finished composers Jonne Valtonen and Roger Wanamo. What they did is absolutely amazing. I think that this the big speciality of the whole Final Symphony project. We are not playing only little clips, so every 5 minutes is another idea. We’re playing like a classical concert and this is the chance for everybody, the audience, to get really involved in the emotional lines of music.

 

Aniero: Absolutely! If I can just music nerd out here for just a second, the thing that I caught on to while listening and that I found really, really immersive was the use of layered sounds and the use of themes that we know from the game, but used more in the way that classical music uses and relies on themes. I thought it was an amazing translation from something that has to work. Video game music has to work in support of some other form of media. The way that you guys have translated it to make it its own incredible piece of music is amazing. I think that you guys have done something very special here.

 

Eckehard: Thank you very much. That’s exactly the very reason we don’t use video screens or anything else. We are only focusing the audience to the music played by the orchestra. It seems to be a very poor performance, but it’s the opposite. What we do, what we play, what we create is a real special moment of 90 minutes of music. Everybody can get really involved. What I found in our past concerts, it’s extremely interesting how concentrated and how focused the audience is. It’s absolutely quiet always. At the end of the concert, we always do have highly emotional moments. It’s breathtaking to be honest.

 

*music sample playing*

 

Aniero: Final Symphony was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. That must have been a huge moment. Abbey Road is one of the biggest studios in music history, and obviously, a fantastic room. Can you tell me about the process of recording the album?

 

Eckehard: It was just fun! I’d have to say, even it was really hard work. The whole collaboration with LOS (London Symphony Orchestra) was from the first concerts in 2013, I guess, or 2012. It was always an absolute fantastic collaboration. The recording took about three days. We were sitting together playing very focused and concentrated, because the orchestra is one of the best orchestras all over the world. Together with the fantastic team in the studio, together is with all the historic moments in Abbey Road. We produce the whole album in Studio One. It was the big famous Beatles studio. The recording was made in 2014 in December. I’m still dreaming about these moments, because together with the orchestra, together with this special music, it was a very special moment in my life.

 

Aniero: If you go visit Eckehard Stier’s website at EckehardStier.com, there’s a very, very cool experience there. It looked like Google put a 3D camera inside of the studio when you guys were recording. You can actually experience the recording session in 360 degrees and see all of the orchestra perform. It’s quite a very, cool interactive experience. I encourage everyone who is listening to go check that out.

 

Eckehard: Yes, I agree completely. The Google team was with us approximately 60 or 90 minutes. A cool team, a lot of really young, experienced and absolutely professional working people. It took not more than 30 minutes to create this 360 degrees of video or this sort of picture. It was just fun and I think the whole special result at Abbey with Google is just amazing.

 

Aniero: It really provides a fantastic experience all around for anyone who is curious. There are also some great YouTube performances as well. You get a fantastic view of what it’s like to be right in the middle of the action like that. Again, I encourage everyone to go check it out. So this is the first time that Final Symphony has made the jump over to doing U.S. shows, correct?

 

Eckehard: Correct, yes.

 

Aniero: That starts in July, right?

 

Eckehard: Right!

 

Aniero: Okay, great! It starts in July and going to be wrapped up at the Davies Symphony Hall with the San Francisco Symphony. We are so looking forward to this performance. It’s really cool to see. I have heard about Final Symphony… It must have been two, three, or four years ago before the album was recorded when it was just a very, small touring show that I think started in Germany, correct?

 

Eckehard: That’s correct. Yes.

 

Aniero: I was like, “Oh, that’s really cool!” because I was such a big fan of Distant Worlds. I had got to go see Distant Worlds in 2009. I had such a great time and was just ecstatic that more video game music was being performed live. Now to find you guys have found success locally and making the jump over to doing United States shows is very exciting. It must be incredibly exciting for you as well.

 

Eckehard: Of course. I know about the U.S.A. I know about the fantastic quality of the orchestra of the U.S.A. I’m really looking forward to it. The whole team is very excited about this. I’m very curious how the audience will respond to the show.

 

Aniero: If I can predict, for just a second, I predict tears. I predict applause, standing ovations, and nothing but praise. You guys put on a fantastic show. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the creator of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, will be doing a pre-show presentation out at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco for the performance. That is also incredibly exciting. Guys, make sure you check it out. You can find tickets over at SFSymphony.org. Eckehard, I’m going to apologize to you, because I’m sure that I’m going to slaughter this pronunciation terribly. You can also find more information at spielemusikkonzerte.de/? Would that be somewhere close?

 

Eckehard: Yea, that’s perfect!

 

Aniero: Oh, wow!

 

Eckehard: It’s nice. It’s very nice! It’s very cute!

 

Aniero: So more information can be found there. Guys, I invite you to check it out, and also, available on iTunes both Final Symphony and Symphonic Fantasies. I understand that Final Symphony 2 is also in the works. Are you attached with that as well?

 

Eckehard: Yea, we launched the program last year in Germany, and it was a great success as well. If the concerts in America will be successful, we’re thinking about some other concerts.

 

Aniero: Well, that is very exciting to hear! Thank you so much, Eckehard Stier, the conductor for Final Symphony, for your time this afternoon. We really appreciate it.

 

Eckehard: You’re welcome! All the very best for you!

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