Jonne Valtonen Interview: Recollecting Symphonic Shades (October 2008)

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.

Jonne Valtonen is a European game music composer well-known for his work on the Symphonic Game Music Concert series. He reflects on his role as the main arranger and orchestrator for Symphonic Shades.

Interview Content

Q: Mr Valtonen, arranging and orchestrating music at home is one thing. How did it turn out live, performed by orchestra and choir? Was it what you had in mind?

A: Actually it was quite close what I had in mind. After the music is written, it is so wonderful to see all the professionals breathe live into the noteheads and rests. I think it is propably the best sensations in the world, at least for me!

Q: It might be a difficult question, but if you would had to decide for one favorite title, what would it be and why?

A: I really like Light at the End of the Tunnel. Even though it is very structured, it still seems very free. The piece itself is very static, but there are a lot of things happening under the music. This is nice as the piece is originally for a short film that is about a suicide and loneliness. So everything seems very still, but there is a lot going on in fact. I really do not know why I like it the most. I just do. It also has one of the strongest melodies by Chris Huelsbeck so it was just a pleasure to put it as front as possible.

Q: Working with orchestras is a huge learning experience for composers and arrangers alike. What did you learn from Symphonic Shades in Cologne?

A: It is always interesting to see how well all the musical ideas transmit using only paper. On the rehearsal situation there is not too much time to make adjustments, so if everything sounded "right" for Symphonic Shades from the beginning I think I succeeded. There is a lot of tradition behind an orchestra and how they play. This is something you definetely have to know well to efficiently write the music.

Q: It was your first co-operation with conductor Arnie Roth. How did it work out?

A: It was great! Arnie Roth knows a lot of the pop side of music, and you can really hear it — in a good way. Like in the first piece of the concert, Grand Monster Slam, it was exactly as it should be — tight and pop-classical. The arrangement is very John Williams-esque and, since Arnie Roth has also conducted a lot of his music, the performance was spot on. All the triplets and quadruplets playing at the same time, playing weak rhythm accents strong, etc. is something what Arnie Roth translated to the orchestra, and did so well. Besides everything else, of course. He was also very sharing about how to make things more efficient in the future, so I really learnt a lot from him.

Q: We heard about a new concert in Cologne on September 12, 2009. Will you be involved in the arrangement of the music again?

A: Yes, and it is going to be so great! I am much looking forward to it.

Q: Besides your involvement in video game music concerts, what other projects are you currently working on?

A: I just finished composing a Tango piece that the WDR (Western German Broadcasting Cologne) ordered from me. I also finished music (arranging and orchestrating) for a huge Japanese video game to be released on PlayStation 3. I still have a couple of smaller games on the table, but after those are done, I am trying to have a vacation. At least for a couple of months and then it is working time again!