Last weekend, the Church of the Incarnation in Bilbao, Spain was the scene of a small concert dedicated to the best anime themes.
Felipe Múgica attended the event, and offers us this special article exclusively for SoundTrackFest.
For some time, I had been seeing in Facebook advertisements a series of concerts of film music and others that promised a different experience as it was a small musical group playing in an intimate setting such as a church and at the light of the candles. At first, I was not very interested until a concert appeared that, because it was unusual and close to my personal tastes, got me interested. It was a concert dedicated to anime and I decided to give it a try.
The price list was not excessively cheap; depending on the proximity to the stage, prices were higher. My choice was the second closest location, which cost about 30 euros. The date was July 10 at 19:00h and the place, the Church of the Incarnation, in Bilbao. Arriving at the site, it must be said that there I missed signs announcing the event, I do not know if it was imposed by the parish authorities or for any other reason. The concert was held in compliance with the expected security measures given the pandemic situation: hand hygiene and temperature measurement. The seats were not numbered, as the audience was seated on the benches that were assigned according to the selected location.
The event offered what was promised: a simple concert by candlelight (artificial, of course). Candles along the aisles and on the stage itself, being the atmosphere of gloom and intimate as we were sold. The concert was performed by the string quintet Fantasía Quintet, composed of two girls on violin, another on viola, another on cello, and a boy on guitars. The repertoire (which could also have used a hand program, even a simple one) consisted mostly of string adaptations of songs from popular anime series. A program clearly dedicated to the fan of the genre and that sought complicity with the audience when interpreting easily recognizable versions. One of the girls of the group was introducing each of the pieces, which helped to recognize the themes and gave, in turn, a certain animation to the performances.
A selection of adaptations of songs well-known by fans: Evangelion, Attack on the Titans, Sailor Moon, Elfen Lied, Naruto, Inuyasha, Dragon Ball… As I say, mostly adaptations of ‘openings’ of anime series; only the medley dedicated to Studio Ghibli would come to be versions of instrumental themes, composed by Joe Hisaishi, such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, etc… Interpretations of well-known themes quite correct, although some like the jazzy Tank! of Cowboy Bebop was difficult to transfer to a string quintet and not so successful.
A pleasant concert, which was helped by the sympathetic participation of the girl in charge of the introductions and who sought the participation of the audience in several of the songs. Also with a grateful number of encores at the end (four or five), interpreting several songs that did not appear in the program on the website. In total, including the time of encores, about 70 minutes of concert, 10 more than expected, which contributed to say goodbye with a positive feeling. Correct string interpretations, a well-recognizable selection of songs, an atypical ambience and a longer than expected duration left a positive feeling at the end of the event.
Finally, this event is part of a series of concerts organized by the company Fever where, as I mentioned at the beginning, small string ensembles perform either classical or similar music, or pieces by Ludovico Einaudi, in this case at the piano. A format that seems to work and, in fact, the anime concert was quite crowded.
Article by Felipe Múgica
Pictures by Eva Belen Barbero Mata