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The Eminence Symphony Orchestra founded in Sydney, Australia is an independent symphony orchestra which delves into the classical music featured in video games and anime, as well as film scores.

History

Eminence was founded in 2003 by a small group of friends, led by the virtuoso solo violinist Hiroaki Yura. The difference in the cultural backgrounds between these friends as well as their differing experiences and qualifications contributed to what would be their first concert.

Eminence focuses particularly on the music of notable Japanese video games and anime. The orchestra's vision is to "inject something bold, dynamic and fresh into classical music". Eminence wishes to "break down the barriers between the audience and the musicians, and to revive orchestra in today's society; particularly amongst youth".

While the trademark of Eminence is the symphony orchestra, the organisation also delves into smaller-based concerts featuring three to five musicians as well as small ensembles, branded differently under Eminence Artists. More recently, the orchestra has offered their services to a wide range of entertainment media such as video games and anime, including the recording of music for many notable game publishers and developers, and for a number of film scores. These services were initially provided through a Sydney-based business entity, Eminence Group Pty Ltd, while the orchestra continued to operate under its existing name.

Awareness of the Eminence brand increased over time, and many opportunities for performances, recording and production services arose in other countries, prompting offices to be established in USA and Japan.

This facilitated further work in those countries, particularly in Japan. Australia continues to be the home base for the orchestra, with the majority of recordings being performed in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Eminence Group Pty Ltd which represented Eminence Symphony Orchestra and its services through license was placed into voluntary liquidation with an appointed liquidator on 21/01/2010. A resolution to wind up the company was made on the same day.[1]

The Eminence Symphony Orchestra continues to operate through Eminence Artists in Australia, IMAGINE INC in Japan and Eminence Group North America in the United States of America.

Concerts and performances

A Night in Fantasia

Eminence's debut concert, A Night in Fantasia, was held on October 31 and November 1, 2003. It was born out of the idea that such an event had never been done before in Australia. The first of a series of concerts was mainly composed of music from Final Fantasy and Studio Ghibli films, and took place at Sydney Congress Hall with tickets that sold well before the night. The overall success as well as the enthusiastic support of the first concert proved a point to the organisers that such a concept of cultural music would appeal to a wide range of people. At this point the company running the concert was 'Infinity 8LUE', and the orchestra was the 'Infinity 8LUE Symphony Orchestra'.

A Night in Fantasia 2004

In 2004, the orchestra was fully formed, and held A Night in Fantasia 2004 at Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on October 30 and 31. William Motzing became the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Daniel Smith became the Assistant Conductor and Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu was a guest of honour at all four performances. This concert marked the name change for the orchestra, as they became known as the Eminence Symphony Orchestra. Infinity 8LUE was the company behind the concert, and shortly after finalised the name change by becoming Eminence.

Piano Stories

Alexey Yemtsov performed the first Piano Stories concert on April 15, at Verbrugghen Hall. Featuring work from Studio Ghibli, Yoko Kanno and Shirō Sagisu, Piano Stories marked the beginning of a series of concerts celebrating piano scores from a selection of anime and gaming soundtracks.

World of John Williams

2005 saw Eminence present the World of John Williams concert, held on the 8th of July at Sydney Town Hall. Phillip Chu and Daniel Smith conducted the Eminence Symphony Orchestra and the Eminence Choir through performance featuring music from one of Hollywood's most recognised composers, John Williams. His work from Harry Potter, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Home Alone and Raiders of the Lost Ark was performed. Daniel Smith conducted the Australian Premiere of "Battle of the Heroes" (from Star Wars Episode III).

Piano Stories II

In the same year Piano Stories II was held at Verbrugghen Hall with Stuart Wright performing pieces from various popular culture video games and anime including Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, Voices of a Distant Star, Macross Plus and Noir. The Eminence Quartet also appeared on the night. The concert was held on the August 6 at Verbrugghen Hall.

Destiny: The Dream Time Ensemble

Later on in 2005 Eminence presented Destiny: The Dream Time Ensemble. Held at Verbrugghen Hall and the National Theatre, This marked the debut of a performance outside of Sydney, as the city of Melbourne in Australia witnessed the 9 member elite chamber music ensemble group perform music from a variety of composers. These included Joe Hisaishi, Nobuo Uematsu, Michiru Ōshima, Shirō Sagisu and Toshihiko Sahashi. The concert also marked the first time Eminence utilised footage from the original films, games and television serials in alongside the music. The members of Destiny were: Hiroaki Yura (Violin), Ayako Ishikawa (Violin), Christian Boennelykke (Viola), Kenichi Mizushima (Violoncello), Hanae Seto (Clarinet), James Fortune (Flute), Joshua Hill (Percussion), Chiron Meller (Percussion) and Jem Harding (Piano).

A Night in Fantasia 2005

A Night in Fantasia 2005 saw a large change in venue, this time to be held at the Sydney Town Hall. Philip Chu became Chief Conductor and the night's music programme also saw fresh changes (due to the work of AV Director, Jacky Fan who acted as musical advisor and co-produced the concert) with the inclusion of many popular anime and video game titles including Final Fantasy VII, Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Onimusha, Halo, Fruits Basket, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Tsubasa Chronicle, Gran Turismo, InuYasha, Naruto, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War and Rurouni Kenshin. The event wrote history by hosting the World Premiere of the World of Warcraft Suite, and again saw the use of footage from the original titles alongside the music. The concert featured the Eminence Choir which assisted the wider music selection greatly.

Piano Stories III

In 2006 Eminence brought the next chapter in the concert series Piano Stories. Featuring acclaimed pianist Alexey Yemtsov who had performed previously in the first Piano Stories, the night highlighted Studio Ghibli and Final Fantasy pieces. Special guest violinists Hiroaki Yura and Ayako Ishikawa were present, and was held on April 15 in Melbourne's National Theatre and on April 22 in Sydney's Verbrugghen Hall.

Spirited Away with Youmi

This concert was designed to run alongside A Night in Fantasia 2006. Spirited Away with Youmi was held on the same day as Melbourne's concert and also took place on July 6 in Sydney. Youmi Kimura performed songs from Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro among others.

A Night in Fantasia 2006

A Night in Fantasia 2006 was held on July 2 in Melbourne Town Hall and July 7 in Sydney Town Hall. The concert featured music from Final Fantasy and Studio Ghibli, and also welcomed special guest Youmi Kimura, the composer of both the Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle's ending themes. It also featured Hiroaki Yura on violin and Phillip Chu as conductor. The concert also premiered music from the newest addition to the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XII and was the world's first symphonic concert to be accompanied by footage from Studio Ghibli films.

Piano Stories IV

Eminence's newest addition to the Piano Stories series featured pianist Krzysztof Malek performing pieces from a number of video game titles including Tetris, the Final Fantasy series, Xenogears, The Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts II as well as a number of anime titles including Noir, My Neighbour Totoro, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Azumanga Daioh, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist and Gundam SEED Destiny. Eminence also announced a mystery guest artist that would appear alongside Krzyzstof Malek, which would later be revealed to be Ayako Ishikawa on the violin. The Melbourne performance was part of the Manifest convention, and was held in Melba Hall within The University of Melbourne on September 23. Sydney's concert took place in Verbrugghen Hall within the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on October 14.

Passion

Eminence announced a new concert series that began in December featuring Ayako Ishikawa and Hiroaki Yura on violin and also featured Natalia Raspopova on piano, Joshua Hill on percussion and Zane Banks on the guitar. On their minisite for the concert, Eminence announced that they collaborated with Japanese video game composers Yasunori Mitsuda and Hitoshi Sakimoto, whose work was featured alongside other notable anime and video game titles. The concert was held in Melbourne on December 9 at the Merlyn Theatre, followed by Sydney on December 16 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, finally ending with Eminence's debut Singapore concert on December 23 and was held at the Victoria Concert Hall. Yasunori Mitsuda was a special guest of honour for all three performances, and also played the bouzouki. Hitoshi Sakimoto also joined him as a guest, though only at the Sydney performance. The concert featured music from games such as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII, Xenosaga, Shadow of the Colossus and Super Mario Bros. The anime pieces came from a number of sources including Haibane Renmei, Tsubasa Chronicle and .hack//Liminality.

A Night in Fantasia 2007: Symphonic Games Edition

First announced at their Passion concert, Eminence chose to split their annual concert series into two performances, the first of which solely focused on video games. The concerts took place at Sydney Town Hall on April 20 and 21, 2007, and the concert in Melbourne was performed in Hamer Hall on April 27, 2007.

Special guest composers included Hitoshi Sakimoto, Junichi Nakatsuru and Masaru Shiina, present at all of the concerts. Yoko Shimomura was also slated to appear at all concerts, but was prevented from attending the Melbourne concert for unknown reasons. In addition, Yasunori Mitsuda, Kow Otani and Shirō Hamaguchi joined the aforementioned composers as guests in both Sydney performances.

The concert featured music from Super Mario Bros., Kingdom Hearts II, the Metal Gear Solid series, the Final Fantasy series, World of Warcraft, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Shadow of the Colossus, Tales of Legendia, Xenosaga Episode 1, Soulcalibur 3, Odin Sphere, Legend of Mana and Deltora Quest, with "Time's Scar" from Chrono Cross featured as encores in both Sydney and Melbourne. However, "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII was played as an encore to the Sydney performances, while the Melbourne performance received a repeat of the Metal Gear Solid theme. The concert also included the Eminence Choir, who last performed in A Night in Fantasia 2005. In addition to video game music, a piece from Romeo x Juliet and one from Final Fantasy VII Advent Children was performed.

Destiny - Reunion

Accompanying the announcement of Ayako's Violin Recital, was Destiny - Reunion, a continuation of Destiny in 2005, performed on July 28, including a brand new line up of music from some of the world's most famous video games and anime. Featuring Eminence founder, Hiroaki Yura among the musicians playing, the concert included never-before-heard arrangements exclusive to Destiny - Reunion.

It was soon revealed that a world tour would form the compliment of Destiny: Reunion. Eminence's concert to Japan was soon sold out in under 10 hours when tickets were for sale, highlighting the excitement of anime and video game enthusiasts in Japan. On the 16th of July, Eminence Orchestra performed their first concert in Japan in which they were met with huge success with Yasunori Mitsuda being a special guest to the concert where he played the piece "Time's Scar" from Chrono Cross.

Following this trip at Japan, the Eminence quintet were the special performers in the Otakon 2007 convention, where they performed to a massive crowd. Hitoshi Sakimoto, a long-time admirer of Eminence was also present at both concerts in Japan and America.

A Night in Fantasia 2007: Anime Edition

The second part of the concert series focused entirely on anime, and the programme given out at Passion indicated a 'late 2007' concert date for both Sydney and Melbourne. At the 2007 Symphonic Games Edition concert, questionnaires were handed out which included a question to list anime music attendees would like to hear in the upcoming concert. In October, entertainment website IGN announced the date - two consecutive concerts would be held on November 18 in the Sir John Clancy Auditorium of the University of New South Wales. Both concerts would feature music from famous anime including: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tsubasa Chronicle, Noir, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, Xenosaga II, Porco Rosso, .hack//Liminality and Elfen Lied. Yuki Kajiura, composer and music producer was the special guest during the concert and during the concert; participated in a question and answer session with the host. Pamphlets were also handed out, detailing the next future concert of the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, Unearthing Eden.

Unearthing Eden ~The sounds of AINARU~

A follow-up on A Night in Fantasia 2007: Anime Edition, this performance was again a smaller-sized quintet, which featured a collaboration with Japanese composer, Kow Otani and Japanese singer AIKa. The concert was held in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney for two days, but both days saw little audience in the performances.

A Night in Fantasia 2009

After two years without having performed a concert of the magnitude of A Night in Fantasia 2007: Symphonic Games Edition, Eminence announced in February on a teaser website their next event, A Night in Fantasia 2009. Performed on September 26, 2009, the concert was held only on one night in Sydney at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Music featured included suites from Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Full pieces performed included Soviet March from Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, The Unsung War from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, Tonari Ni (Beside Me) from The Idolmaster composed by Go Shiina and performed by Chiaki Takahashi, and the world premiere of Dragon Age: Origins ending theme, I Am The One, sung by Aubrey Ashburn. The majority of the arrangements were created by AFRIKA composer Wataru Hokoyama. Other guests included Kow Otani and AIKA Tsuneoka, who performed a suite from Shadow of the Colossus, Inon Zur, Yasunori Mitsuda and Cris Velasco.[2]

Other performances

Australian PlayStation 3 media launch

On the February 22, 2007, Sony held the Australian media launch for PlayStation 3 in Sydney. Announcing Sony's sponsorship of Eminence for A Night In Fantasia 2007: Symphonic Games Edition, the orchestra performed a piece from Final Fantasy XII and a piece from Shadow of the Colossus as part of the presentation.

Hillsong Conference

In July 2007, the Eminence Symphony Orchestra performed at the opening ceremony for the Hillsong Conference, an annual mid-year Christian conference held in Sydney, Australia.

Supanova, Sydney

In October 2007, a trio of Eminence musicians, Hiroaki Yura, Minah Choe and Kumiko Ito, were featured as special guests where they played several pieces including the Pirates of the Caribbean, Laputa - Castle in the Sky and Porco Rosso.

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Recordings

As well as performing concerts, the Eminence Symphony Orchestra has dedicated time for the recording of various pieces for anime and games.

Romeo x Juliet

In December 2006, Eminence recorded the solo instrumental music for the GONZO anime series Romeo x Juliet, which was composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto. The soundtrack was recorded at the Trackdown Scoring Stage at Fox Studios in Sydney. In January 2007, Eminence then recorded the full orchestral, string ensemble, chamber ensemble and more solo instrumentals for the anime series.

GrimGrimoire

Also in December 2006, solo instrumentals were recorded for the Vanillaware and Nippon Ichi PS2 game GrimGrimoire (グリムグリモア), which was to be composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto.

Deltora Quest (DS)

Eminence was once again working with Hitoshi Sakimoto in February 2007 for the recording of the Nintendo DS game, Deltora Quest, and adaptation to the anime based on Emily Rodda's children fantasy books Deltora series.

Opoona

In April 2007, Eminence took part in another recording with Hitoshi Sakimoto for ArtePiazza and Koei's Wii role-playing game Opoona.

Senjo no Valkyria: Gallian Chronicles

In August 2007, Eminence's participated in the recording of Sega's Senjou no Valkyria (aka Valkyria Chronicles) for the PlayStation 3.

Odin Sphere

Also in August 2007, Eminence worked together with Hitoshi Sakimoto's company, Basiscape, to record Odin Sphere's original soundtrack.

The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk

Based on the Namco Bandai's classic game The Tower of Druaga, The Aegis of Uruk, a GONZO anime TV series with its music composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, had its music recorded with Eminence in February 2008.

Soulcalibur IV

In April 2008, Eminence recorded the orchestral music for the fourth Namco Bandai video game installment of the Soulcalibur series, Soulcalibur IV which was composed by Junichi Nakatsuru.

Diablo III

In June 2008, Eminence recorded the orchestral music used for the announcement and trailers for Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo III.

Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment

Script error Coinciding with the recording of Diablo III, Eminence approached Blizzard Entertainment with the idea of releasing an album of orchestrated music from across Blizzard's gaming universe, including Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. Guest composers were commissioned to compose their own unique take on the original tracks of the games, including Japanese composers Kow Otani and Masaru Shiina, and also Russell Brower who is currently Head Director of Audio within Blizzard. The album will also feature tracks from unreleased games such as StarCraft II and Diablo III. Two packages have been announced for the album: Legendary and Standard. The Legendary edition of the album features two audio discs, a DVD with a documentary and featurette, a wide-format booklet and 9 exclusive art cards; while the Standard Edition solely consist of the two audio discs.[1]

Makoto Shinkai Image Album "Promise"

Recorded by Eminence in 2009 and released by CoMix Wave Films, this CD features adaptations of music composed by Tenmon for the four animated films directed to date by Makoto Shinkai. It includes three songs from 5 Centimeters Per Second (including an instrumental version of "One More Time, One More Chance" by Masayoshi Yamazaki), six songs from The Place Promised In Our Early Days, two songs from Voices of a Distant Star, and two songs from She and Her Cat.


References

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External links

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