Symphonic Shades Pre-Concert Interviews: Chris Huelsbeck and Arnie Roth

Across the next few weeks, we will publish a series of English translations of interviews with those involved with Symphonic Shades – Huelsbeck in Concert. The German versions of the interviews can be read at the official website for the concert. The following are interviews with Chris Huelsbeck, Jonne Valtonen, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, and Yuzo Koshiro before the concert.

Chris Huelsbeck Interview: Composer

Chris Huelsbeck is a legendary German game musician whose work will be celebrated in Symphonic Shades – Huelsbeck in Concert. He has also composed Caravan of the Elephants exclusively for the concert.

Q: Chris Huelsbeck, today you will travel to Germany. Are you excited?

A: Because of all the preparations, and because I moved recently, I haven’t even have time to get excited yet. But I am pretty sure that I will get excited while I’m sitting in my airplane for 11 hours, where I do not have to do anything. There I will think a lot about the upcoming days and the concert.


Q: Are you going to attend the rehearsals?

A: Definitely. I will attend all rehearsals. I will watch the musicians and the conductor and I will enjoy being there. I am also greatly looking forward to discuss last details with Jonne Valtonen and Arnold Roth.


Q: Besides working on Symphonic Shades, what are your plans in Cologne?

A: I am planning to do sightseeing together with my girlfriend who never has been to Germany before. Of course I want to relax a bit, too, before the big concert day.


Q: Are there any arrangements you are looking forward to the most?

You really have to believe me when I am saying: I think all arrangements are so incredibly good that I cannot tell you about a favorite piece at this moment.


Q: Regardless of this, is there a piece that is especially interesting or special to you?

A: As said,  such a choice is very, very difficult to make. If I have to make a decision, I would say Caravan of the Elephants. The reason is that it is a new piece where I did parts of the orchestration by myself, so I am especially curious to hear it live.


Arnie Roth Interview: Conductor

Arnie Roth is an award-winning conductor known for his work with popular artists and Final Fantasy concerts. He will conduct the WDR Radio Orchestra for Symphonic Shades.

Q: Mr Roth, many people wonder what a conductor is actually doing. Could you please explain what your role is in a project such as Symphonic Shades?

A: The orchestra will be reading new scores with ‘virgin’ printing and copies of brand new orchestrations and arrangements, never performed before. So one basic factor that I must do is in helping the musicians learn the actual notes and passagework and mastering any technical difficulties in these scores, the aspect of illuminating the musical intent. As music director and conductor it is my responsibility manage the pacing of the rehearsals and preparation of the materials. I also work up to top performance shape all of the basic building blocks we use on every concert come into focus including tempo, delineating the structures of the music, intonation, perfecting the passagework, orchestra ensemble difficulties, etc.


Q: How much time do you usually spend preparing yourself for a video game music concert?

A: This varies of course, and it goes without saying that if it is a collection of scores that I have performed many times before it will need less preparation time to be ready. In the case of a completely new program with new scores to prepare, as in the case of Symphonic Shades, of course this requires much more preparation time, especially as there are other aspects to the performance to incorporate such as choir, piano solo accompaniment, percussion soloist, etc. It’s difficult to give you an actual amount of hours, but suffice it to say that it entails many hours a week leading up to the rehearsal and performance week.

Q: You have seen the scores for Symphonic Shades now. Would you mind telling us what you think about them?

A: They are all very well orchestrated and arranged, and of course I have some experience conducting scores orchestrated by some of the these same arrangers/orchestrators, so I am familiar with their abilities and techniques. No matter who the orchestrator or arranger is on any of the scores, however, they still have a common goal of presenting the music as the composer intended, so any new twists and turns they introduce must not take away from the main musical ideas in Chris Huelsbeck’s original works.

Q: Could you tell us please what you think is the most difficult title to perform, and why?

A: Certainly there are some scores, such as Turrican II – The Final Fight, which involve very difficult and extensive coordination between the piano soloist (playing a very tough solo!) and the the orchestra. I believe this score stands out as one of the most difficult and challenging that I have done for a video game concert.


Q: What is your most favorite piece, and why?

A: I am currently (as we say in the business) “too close” to all of the scores at the moment to pick one favorite. It may be easier after we have doen a few rehearsals perhaps. That’s part of the excitement and preparation of this concert and I’m certainly looking forward to putting all of these scores together this week with the WDR!

Posted on August 15, 2008 by Chris Greening. Last modified on March 2, 2014.

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About the Author

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!

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