Destiny Reunion - Saturday Night, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

by Mutsuki, Jul 30th 2007

Following on from their popular A Night in Fantasia - Symponic Games Edition concerts, Eminence Orchestra has held a worldwide tour called "Destiny Reunion". Instead of the full orchestra, this tour is small group of five musicians - Hiroaki Yura and Kenny Kao as Violinists, Andrew Marciniak with the Viola, Minah Choe playing with the Violoncello and Kumiko Ito on the piano.

The Destiny Reunion concert had proved to be a success in its Japan and USA appearances, sporting a complete sellout in Japan about ten hours after ticket sales were opened, and Otakon was loaded with a full house. Both had special guests which had decided to participate in the concert in one form or another and both events were widely seen as successes, which left a high expectation for everyone who turned up to the event at the Conservatorium.

Fortunately I was able to enter the Conservatorium before doors opened, and allowed me to meet some of the support crew who managed the event. I was then surprised, some of the musicians in the Eminence orchestra were assisting as part of the support crew. For those who wanted to meet some of the other members this was a great opportunity, as I found the ones I spoke with to be much more than just a face in the orchestra.

Once the doors had opened and everyone had sat down, it was a bit surprising to see empty seats in the house with maybe a third to a quarter of the Conservertorium hall's six hundred seats empty, mostly towards the back. Unfortunately no special guests could make it to the concert, and due to the setup of the Conservatorium's main hall no anime or gaming footage could be displayed during the event, which was a slight disappointment to those expecting it. In a way, the smaller turnout provided for a much more intimate session, with everyone in a clear position to see and hear the performance. It also provided an interesting night, as it provided an environment where the performers could interact with the audience directly.

The performance started nine minutes late, with doors being opened at six and everything to start at six thirty. MC Terence Trankiem invited the audience to give the latecomers a glare as they were ushered in after the opening piece, Kakki which was from Romeo x Juilet. It was a very fitting start, opening the performance, and once again set the standard.

During the concert, a good third of the concert was from Romeo and Juilet by Gonzo studios {which is still being run in Japan} with other pieces from Noir, Odin Sphere, .hack//Liminality, Princess Mononoke, the Seventh Seal, Xenosaga, Rakugaki Oukoku, My Neighbour Totoro, Laputa, Gundam Seed, Xenosaga, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Chrono Cross, as well as an original piece by Hitoshi Sakimoto and a couple of secrets.

The music was something you can just close your eyes and just listen to, the atmosphere of the music just soothing in through your ears. Other pieces were the sort which you just had to watch, the atmosphere could be literally felt as they played, particularly from Hiro, who you could see fully participate, moving and swaying at times, his violin quite often at times overreaching and leading the piece. But of course, the entire quintet had its own lead parts where they took the piece and took the lead. Any mistakes which were made on their part were very easily missed - you'd have to be paying a lot of attention to even catch them and know the material very, very well.

If there was a piece that only required two members of the quintet, the whole group would leave and then the necessary musicians would return. One particular piece, Grandpa's Violin from .hack//Liminality was a perfect example of the versalitity and intimacy of the event. It was performed by just Hiroaki and Kimiko, and just watching Hiroaki play demonstrated the lonely and isolation feel of the piece. A piano solo was also part of the performance, with Kimiko playing very well.

Part of the event is the performance, but the audience was spoiled with Hiroaki Yura and Terence Trankiem more than willing to bring the audience in, sharing things that they saw happen in their Japanese and US events. It certainly gave the crowd a laugh at times as we were welcomed into a little window of their world behind all the formality. Some of the little bits of trivia we were offered included Hiroaki Yura being dragged to Kow Otani's place and being forced to improvise as he played the piano, about how Hiroaki described him as just a little weird, the MC being more than happy to poke a little fun at his co-host at Otakon which was kindly described as a bit of an oddball. Hiroaki also showed his human side when he said how he was appalled about how one of the pieces he was asked to do for Romeo X Juliet was used in the Anime itself.

This wasn't just limited to just poking fun at other people though, they were more than happy to provide us with some light entertainment at their own expense For example Andrew's reluctance to speak on microphone, citing what happened at Otakon as an example why. The MC noted that he couldn't offer Andrew the mic this time as it was stuck to a stand, until Hiroaki offered his free microphone which resulted in a little street theatre as the MC went for it.

Other tidbits included the fact that Minah Choe is a starcraft player, some jokes about Kenny Kao's New Zealand heritage and how Kumiko Ito ended up addicted to Nintendogs while flying to the US. As I looked around, people had little smirks or were laughing outright at some of the little snippets which brought the audience just a little closer to the performers. Getting to know the musicians beyond their face and their instrument as they showed their honest, living side, which is more than one could say about most orchestras. It could be said that some of jokes shared could be described as inappropriate. Particularly since they took a shot at Sydney as an audience, but this didn't seem to offend anyone in attendance.

It was also mentioned that they were more than happy to allow photography and filming during the event, as long as it wasn't distracting the performance in any way, and they were happy to see it go up on various sites such as YouTube. This seems to be an interesting departure from what is considered normal for a live event

They also made an important announcement, Hiroaki Yura stating that A Night in Fantasia: Anime Edition would be playing on the 15th and 16th of December, and that Kow Otani of Shadow of the Colossus fame would be joining in the event.

During the piano solo piece, someone from the gallery did accidentally knock over a can which echoed, but unsurprisingly, Kimiko played on without skipping a note. Some of the distractions were more due to the audience itself, one of the pieces received premature applause, and during another, the crowd couldn't help but laugh a bit during the pieces but the laughter didn't bother the performers.

With this sort of performance, it is hard to perfectly describe just how to rate each piece - Apart from the opening which set the mood, much of the concert weaved up and down, making it a particularly unique experience for the ninety minutes which the concert went on for, as the mood of the pieces went up and down. Some were the sort where you could bask in its beauty, and others were saddening. Some of them again were the sort where you could almost reminisce and there were others you could have a laugh at.

If I was asked to name a few to keep an eye out for it would have to be one of the encores they kept up their sleeve, which was a complete melody, and almost something you could imagine happening in game even though you would have thought they would have required some brass to perform the piece. Radical Dreamers from Chrono Cross was a piece that one could just close their eyes and just dream, and Grandpa's Violin from .hack//Liminarity where you could feel the isolation, all showing the wide range of emotion and energy that was expressed throughout the concert.

Of course it's almost expected that Eminence has a few pieces up its sleeve when it comes to the end of the scheduled program, and once again they did. I won't spoil this for you because this time around they didn't make it very obvious just what they kept as backup. If you have been to more than one Eminence concert however, an educated guess could be made.

The survey itself this time around was collected at the end of the show proper, and this time around there was no mention of what pieces were played. The survey prize this time around was an Eminence shirt of any size, with the winners being Gary Sanoto and Jessica Wong drawn by Minah and Kumiko, with that wrapping up the end of the concert a minute before nine.

After the event, the performers made themselves available to the crowd for autographs, and a good hundred and fifty decided to line up and take advantage of this, with the last of them finishing up at nine thirty, with the quintet being quite happy to meet some of the attendees.

All in all? Given how the event stacked up it was surprising that many missed out on a unique opportunity. Many attendees there were those who liked music as a general thing, and they were quite impressed. We even had a group come up from Melbourne to attend the Sydney concert, (Who spared no time in taking shots at the Sydney Audience) and they were ready to do it all over again when they are scheduled to show up in Melbourne on the 11th of August at Federation Square.

For those who haven't yet to experience such an event, although a string dominated quintet may make for much slower pieces it showcases some of the talent within Eminence without having too much talent crowd the limited space for music. For those who wonder what to expect after seeing the full orchestra play at A Night in Fantasia, Destiny Reunion offers a much more intimate, more personable concert, where more than just music is shared - where a human touch is also provided as part of the performance.

We would like to thank Eminence Orchestra and Kerryn Nelson for inviting us to the event, Kenneth Ho from Eminence with providing us photos, as well as Michelle Yu for contributing to this report.


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