Hiroaki Yura Interview: Echoes of War & Future Perspectives (December 2008)
In December 2008, we finally conducted an interview with our friend Hiroaki Yura of Eminence. A violin virtuoso in his youth, Yura travelled around the world performing with many top orchestras and winning numerous awards. It wasn't until 2005 that he settled down to create the Eminence Symphony Orchestra in Australia.
Yura has fought to bring the traditionally highbrow classical music experience to the masses by featuring music from video games and film. Through Eminence's many concerts and recordings for video games, Yura is on his way to achieving this goal.
The second part of the interview focuses on the recently released Echoes of War and the future of Eminence. The previously published first part of the interview discusses Eminence's origins, concerts, and game and anime score recordings.
Interview Subject: Hiroaki Yura
Interviewer: Chris Greening
Editor: Chris Greening
Coordination: Chris Greening
Chris: You have recently published the arranged album Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment. Could you introduce the project to unfamiliar readers? What inspired this album production?
Hiroaki Yura: Echoes of War is a compilation of music from Blizzard Entertainment. Basically, we rearranged music from Blizzard titles so that we could make complete pieces for a Symphony Orchestra out of them. This concept was brought up because a lot of game music is looped and there is no "real" beginning or end to it due to the nature of how the music is used. I guess I inspired myself to do it, hahaha.
Chris: Eminence have performed Blizzard music for A Night in Fantasia 2007 and Diablo III. Were these works important for leading to Echoes of War? Is it safe to assume you're a big Blizzard fan?
Hiroaki Yura: Oh, I love games by Blizzard. I have played all their games and these games are as polished as you can get. I still play World of Warcraft and look forward to StarCraft II and Diablo III. The works we did in concert for Blizzard didn't play a major role and Diablo III was recorded after the initial recording of Echoes of War.
Chris: There are a total of 15 arrangements spread across two discs. How did you select the source material from the numerous and often giant scores of Blizzard titles? How far should the track selection satisfy fans of their games?
Hiroaki Yura: We selected music which we thought were important to the particular title. However, only being 15 tracks, we weren't able to select all of them so we hope to go back to specific title if there is to be a sequel in the series. I am obviously very familiar with all the works and much of the music were selected in cooperation with the original composers. I hope the track selection satisfies all the fans out there!
Chris: You selected the respected Natsumi Kameoka to arrange and orchestrate most of the album. What will she bring to the already orchestral originals? Will she help to make Blizzard music even more colourful and refined?
Hiroaki Yura: Natsumi has a knack for making sure the music stays true to the original intent. I am very picky when it comes to musical intention; I want to make sure everything stays very true to what the original composers intended to. As an excellent orchestrator, she does tend to make everything a lot more refined.
Chris: Two guest musicians on the album are Ko Otani and Masaru Shiina. What inspired you to ask these two to participate? Could you tell us about what they will be offering?
Hiroaki Yura: My inspiration to ask Go Shiina was his creativity. It is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to do a rearrangement for orchestra for Zerg in StarCraft. Through his creativity, I thought Go could bring another aspect of the Zerg to all the Blizzard fans who should still be able to recognise all the tunes.
Kow Otani? Need I say more? Diablo III has made a bombastic approach to music. Epic. Colossal. Did I say colossal? Wasn't there a game called Shadow of the Colossus? We wanted Kow to bring something very different — another composer's approach to Diablo. And that he did.
Chris: Echoes of War is certainly an exuberant project. What should we expect from the DVD included in the Legendary Edition? What about the liner notes and artwork for the album?
Hiroaki Yura: The DVD include all the behind the scene you would see in a recording project like Echoes of War. From pre-production, recording, and post production, the camera is rolling. I'm certain it's even got shots of musicians taking naps.
The liner notes are filled with all the background we can give you. For example, how we formed each track, what original tracks arrangements were inspired by, comments from arrangers and composers, and even a quote from the game that inspired the mood of the music. The artworks are awesome pieces of art I thought would complement our CD!
Chris: You have said that you would love to perform Echoes of War as part of a large-scale concert tour. Is this likely to happen in 2009? Would it be feasible to take the orchestra around the world?
Hiroaki Yura: We would love to make this happen. I don't think it can happen in 2010, but we are going to setup a website to accept support and donations to make this dream a possibility! Please support us. I'm sure our good friends here will post the news up when we're ready!
Chris: Many in the industry feel other concert tours have brought a commercialistic and competitive focus to video game music concerts. How do you feel about the situation? Is there still room for orchestras who focus more on originality and artistic integrity?
Hiroaki Yura: There are always room for orchestras who focus more on originality and artistic integrity. However, orchestras who prize those points don't make it far since funding these concerts is the closest thing you can get to commercial suicide. Yes, it is a miracle that we have survived so far — my deepest thanks go to the composers and listeners who have supported our cause.
I feel sad that a lot of people are commercialising this music. I feel that people are not listening to what they deserve to listen. It is in no way that they should pay a full price concert for an orchestra which probably had one or two rehearsals. Or terrible arrangements that does not capture the true intent of the original composers. But what can we do anyway? We're not the music police. The best we can do is outdo what we did before and try to get to everyone so that we can show people what an orchestra truly sounds like when they care about the music.
Chris: Evidently, the Eminence Symphony Orchestra has grown from its humble origins into a large, professional, and internationally respected orchestra. How has this evolution been achieved? Are there any people who have been especially important overseeing this?
Hiroaki Yura: We had the people, we only needed the resources to make everything happen. I'm very thankful of those musicians and staff who had faith in me through hard times to stick together and make something out of nothing throughout all the years. Hitoshi Sakimoto played a vital role in getting us out to the industry. His risk he took to make the first step to record with us has lead to other major projects such as Soul Calibur and Diablo. We are still yet struggling a lot. We still do not have enough to execute what we love to do. Hopefully our unannounced initiative will help solve this problem.
Chris: Now that Echoes of War is complete, what is next for the Eminence? Can your fans expect A Night in Fantasia 2009 or any new game recordings from you? Anything else you'd like to say to those reading this?
Hiroaki Yura: As always, I cannot announce anything at this time. However, yes you can expect a concert or two in 2009 and we have some recordings lined up. You will be one of the first to know!