LIVE REPORT: Yoshiki Classical @ Carnegie Hall

Among the challenging and emotionally draining genres of music to compose, classical is probably the pinnacle. Arranging an orchestra of 48 people to play in perfect unison is not an easy task! In today's day and age, not many people are willing to put forth the effort. For a man like Yoshiki, however, it seems all but a breeze. He joked at his two-night sold-out Yoshiki Classical event that "he is always ready" and it shows. When the call came down the line from the Emperor of Japan, he composed the 10-year anniversary theme. He went on to explain that several of his intricate compositions were put together in a matter of a week, something that most classical composers would never have dreamed to be able to do. With all this in mind, his 2013 album Yoshiki Classical was a compilation of his efforts that ultimately brought him to the highest stage for orchestral productions: Carnegie Hall.

The introduction of this show did not include Yoshiki. The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra played the theme for Japan's 2005 World Expo, "I'll Be Your Love." The audience roared with applause as the man of the hour came out and introduced himself and his composition and went directly in to two of X's most beautiful and infamous numbers: "The Last Song" and "Forever Love." The former, Yoshiki explained, was the final recording that X did together before their initial disbandment in the late '90's. Now that they've returned, they play the song at the beginning of each show to exemplify that some ends are just beginnings of things for the future. While the latter song was also an incredibly famous X single, it was also used as the theme for the coincidentally-named anime film "X."

The remainder of the first half of the show was packed with long and glorious themes and scores that he had composed for films and events, most notably being the Golden Globes Theme in 2013. "I guess I was in the right place at the right time!", he admitted humbly. He then returns to music composed for his visual rock band with powerhouse ballads: "Hero" and their new single, "La Venus." Vocalist Katie Fitzgerald, who also helped bring life and emotion to "The Last Song", also came out and assisted with "Hero," which was used as the theme to anime film "Saint Seiya." You may recognize Katie as the woman who gives voice to another of the composer's projects: Violet UK. During the performance of "La Venus," things took a serious turn. While the orchestra played, there was a screening of scenes from "We Are X." The sheer power and emotion of this song brought the house down and left not one dry eye.

The remaining two songs also had emotional dedications. To the audience, Yoshiki vowed to "take up all of [our] pain and suffering and use it in this performance" by playing a brilliant rendition of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Finally, he explained that the following song was requested of him during one of the darkest periods of his life. Following the disbanding of X, Toshi's involvement with the cult, and Hide's passing the thought of continuing his musical career was not on his mind. He claimed he did not want to deal with this world anymore and to not involve himself in the matters of the industry. What had snapped him out of it was the request from the Japanese Emperor to compose his 10th-anniversary theme song. He was very conflicted, of course, he wanted to compose for the Emperor even though he wanted to break from the industry. So, he called his mother for advice, to which she ultimately said "Yeah, you should do it." and the rest is history.

After a very short intermission, the stage was reset with the orchestra playing yet another rock/classical crossover numbers: "Tears." An epic length song with a catchy tune that used the orchestra, rather than Yoshiki himself, as the main focus. When he did return to the stage, he was accompanied by operatic vocalist Ashley Knight. He opened up about his experience with the American Dream, how individuals (like himself) come to the United States to pursue their heart's desires. He hopes that in the future, people of all races and nationalities can find a home and peace here in our boarders. Uproarious applause ensued. He then dedicated a piano solo to us all, a new arrangement of our very own "Star-Spangled Banner." This flowed directly into another song with Ashley on vocals entitled "River of the Light." Again, in dedication to his fallen comrades and father, Yoshiki played a very-famous classical piece originally done by Tchaikovsky called "Swan Lake." He laid claim to this man being one of his all-time inspirations, along with his father who instilled his love for Classical music in him before he passed. He also wishes that, someday, he could reach the ranks of these great composers, but some of us may feel he already has.

Finally, the show ends with a mix of X songs reworked in the classical style. "Without You," a track dedicated to Hide; "Kurenai (Crimson)" one of X's biggest hits; and "Art of Life" X's most adventurous take on musicality. The penultimate song of the show was the full-orchestra version of "Endless Rain," a theme song to yet another film. This is potentially one of X's most iconic songs and they gave it very special treatment. A massive disco ball covered the entire venue in a shimmering glow the exuded safety and solidarity. Towards the very end, the audience began to sing the lyrics of the chorus in time with the orchestra, a moment that will not be forgotten as one of the most magical and unifying moments in time.

Yoshiki is a man with a great deal of sadness that he carries on his back with him everywhere he goes. His life has not been easy as he has had to deal with death and loss more times than the average man while also catering to his massive and still-growing fan base the world over. Now that X is back, it appears that he has a newer and more refreshing joie de vivre for composing, though it still becomes hard on his mental state when he remembers how he took for granted the moments he had with both Hide and Taiji. People had not always believed in him or his passion for music, but all of these years later he still retains that if you believe in something strongly enough it truly can happen for you. Ci sarà miracolo!

Yoshiki Classical @ Carnegie Hall Set List:
1. I'll Be Your Love
2. Last Song
3. Forever Love
4. Golden Globe Theme
5. Hero
6. La Venus
7. Moonlight Sonata
8. Anniversary
9. Tears
10. Miracle
11. Star Spangled Banner
12. Bloom Like A Rose
13. River of the Light
14. Swan Lake
15. Without You
16. Kurenai
17. Art of Life
18. Endless Rain

A very special thanks to Resonance Media for choosing us to cover this event! 
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