Photo by Terra Dragos

Film Score Orchestra Features the Original Score from Marvel and DC Films

Orchestra Performing Official Film Scores in Japan

It's not unusual to see orchestra concerts held around the world that feature the music from mainstream media and films, but perhaps one would never imagine that such concerts also take place in Japan as well. The Film Score Philharmonic is just one of many professional organizations that actively seek out amateur musicians and vocalists to perform on stage to a live audience. One of the most unique and interesting things about this organization is that the original score from the movies is procured from the movie studios, so even if you may have heard some of these themes before, they are not arrangements but the real deal.

Led by renowned film score and video game soundtrack composer Nobuko Toda, the orchestra gathers both professional and amateur musicians from all around Japan to perform in concerts that are held roughly 4 times or more a year. Although most concerts are strictly performed by an orchestra, some also include a large chorus of around 80 members.

Speaking a little more personally, I participated as a soprano vocalist in the Film Score Philharmonic Orchestra last year which featured music by John Williams at the gorgeous Tokyo Opera City Hall in 2018. Even though the chorus only performed three pieces, each piece certainly packed an emotional punch! We performed "Duel of the Fates" from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, "Battle of the Heroes" from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and "Hymn of the Fallen" from Saving Private Ryan. Out of these three pieces, "Hymn of the Fallen" was special since no other orchestra had ever performed it before us!

Also, meeting Toda was especially exciting for me because I knew her first as a video game composer. When I went home for Christmas in 2012, I bought a couple of PSP games to play on the plane, and one of them was Senritsu no Stratus (Lit. Terror of the Stratus). It was an interesting RPG that I quickly fell in love with due to its talented voice cast and animation artwork by J.C.Staff, of which I also own several genga and douga sets from, but also because of the amazing composers who came together for the soundtrack:

  • Nobuko Toda (39 tracks)
  • Maki Kimura (4 tracks)
  • Ludvig Forssell (2 tracks)
  • FictionJunction (1 track) - Opening theme, produced by Yuki Kajiura
  • Rie Yamaguchi (1 track)
  • Shuichi Kobori (1 track)

Scores from the DC and Marvel Universe

Once again, I will be participating in the chorus for the upcoming concert at the end of February. The theme of this concert is "Super Heroes", so we will be performing pieces from various Marvel and DC comic-inspired from the following titles:

  • Superman Returns
  • Dark Knight
  • Wonder Woman
  • Mission: Impossible 3
  • Transformers
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Iron Man
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Thor
  • Black Panther
  • Captain Marvel
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame

Concert goers are also encouraged to let their inner otaku free by dressing in cosplay during the show! It’s very common to see various characters from Star Wars with companion lightsabers all over the place, so it’s definitely a sight to behold!

About Nobuko Toda

Graduating with dual diplomas in Film Scoring and Contemporary Writing of Music at Berklee College of Music under the Georges Delerue Scholarship and Chicago Commercial Music Producer’s Award, Nobuko Toda is a film and video game music composer, orchestrator, and music producer based in Tokyo, Japan. First composing at the age of four, Nobuko has worked on more than 70 titles for film, television, and video games.

She worked with director Hideo Kojima at Konami Digital Entertainment as an in-house composer for 7 years. As lead composer, she composed music alongside Harry Gregson-Williams for cinematic scenes in Metal Gear Solid 3 & 4. She also worked as Orchestrator and Executive Music Producer for Halo 4 & 5.

She received many nominations and awards worldwide such as nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music of Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award (D.I.C.E.) and Best Original Score at the BAFTA Game Awards, as well as winning various awards by IGN, Spike TV, AIAS, G4TV, GDC and more.

Following her departure from Konami, she established her own company, Film Score LLC, which specializes in the production of soundtracks. She is currently involved in several movies, television, and AAA video game productions based in Japan, China, and the U.S. In 2015, she became the inaugurated chair & music director of the Film Score Philharmonic Orchestra performing in Tokyo, Japan.

Interested in Participating in Amateur Concerts?

Besides this particular concert, there is a multitude of fan-run amateur and semi-professional orchestras that are open to the public. If you are in Japan for any length of time and are interested in lending your musical talent in a concert like this, definitely look into it. It's sometimes difficult to hear when and what is going on, but generally, this information is advertised on Twitter, albeit in Japanese. Once you've been accepted to one concert, however, it's usually easier to network with the folks involved to hear about any other future opportunities.

Working to perform music that you love with such amazing people, this is also a really great way to get active in your community and meet people. Practicing for hours with the same people generally every other week for up to six months out of the year helps to create strong bonds that might not have been possible otherwise. Plus, if you're looking to practice your Japanese, this is also a great way to engage with others in a fun and safe environment. What was really interesting to me was that I had always been in one choir or another since elementary school, and I started playing the piano around the same time as well, but I was entirely unfamiliar with musical terms in Japanese. You'd best forget the alphabetical name for each key and brush up on your Do-Re-Mi. No one will know if you say "the key of C", etc. It was shocking at first but extremely interesting.

This coming concert will be my eight performance in Japan, and it is very much like what they say about Pringles: You can't just have one. Just be warned, though: Even though it's super fun practicing for many months, that final performance comes and goes like a flash. You will be wishing that time would never end, but there's always another concert waiting for you sometime.

Concert Information

  • Name: Super Heroes Orchestra Concert
  • Date: February 24th (Monday, Nat'l Holiday)
  • Times: Doors open at 15:00, Concert Begins at 16:00, Ends at 19:10
  • Price: 2,000 JPY (all seats)
  • Place: Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall
  • Address: Kawasaki City Cultural Foundation 1310 Omiya-cho Saiwai-ku, 212-8557 Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Telephone: 044-520-0100
  • Tickets through Ticket Pia here

Related Links

  • Film Score Philharmonic Orchestra Home Page

By - Terra Dragos.