The Genshin Concert tour 2023 “Melodies of an Endless Journey” delivers live orchestral music to Genshin Impact players around the world, kicking off in Singapore in October 2023 and ending in Germany in January 2024.

The hit songs from different regions are played by local orchestras in their respective countries, each with a tailored song list led by a conductor.

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ONE Esports had the chance to attend the premiere Genshin Concert in Singapore performed by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra and Thai conductor Thanapol Setabrahmana.

In an exclusive interview, Thanapol talks about how he approached and interprets Genshin’s music, the behind-the-scenes preparation that went into the concert, and how he worked closely with the orchestra to deliver a delightfully memorable experience at the Esplande Concert Hall.

Genshin Concert tour conductor Thanapol Setabrahmana peels back the layers of Genshin Impact music

Genshin Concert 2023 performed by Metropolitan Festival Orchestra in Singapore
Credit: Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

When Thanapol first learned that he got the job, he felt very excited because “the game’s music had fascinated me for quite a while,” he tells ONE Esports.

He appreciates how the original soundtrack incorporates diverse musical influences from various cultures. By studying the score more closely in preparation for the performance, he grew in appreciation for HOYO-MiX’s compositions.

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In fact, highlighting Genshin Impact’s cultural diversity was one of the key messages he conveyed to the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.

“Genshin Impact features music inspired by various regions and traditions, and it was crucial that we authentically captured the essence of each of these styles,” Thanapol said. “While our rehearsal process was generally smooth, we did encounter some pieces that required extra attention to ensure we crafted the proper aesthetics and did justice to them.”

Conductor Thanapol Setabrahmana and soloists of Genshin Concert 2023 at Esplanade in Singapore
Credit: thanapol_seta on Instagram

Besides the scoring, he studied the game’s story, locations, events, and characters to better understand the relationship between the music and its universe. Since he grew up listening to diverse genres of music, including traditional Chinese and Japanese music that heavily features in Liyue and Inazuma, he feels fortunate that he has this foundation to draw upon.

To his trained ears, he even identified that while some pieces may be simply “background music” to Genshin players, he recognized that “there are deeper artistic meanings” when he listened to them carefully.

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“However, conveying these subtleties to an orchestra comprising musicians from various cultural backgrounds always required a thoughtful and collaborative approach,” said Thanapol.

“In some instances, I collaborated closely with individual musicians, encouraging them to accentuate dynamic shifts to achieve the desired effects, or to help hyping up some other related musical parts,” he continued. “I also resorted to verbal descriptions to inspire the players.”

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Taking the melodies of Inazuma for example, he wanted to evoke a sense of tranquility, drawing inspiration from the album’s title, “Realm of Tranquil Eternity.”

“I remember saying to the orchestra — ‘the aesthetics of things moving very gradually through space and time.’ These descriptions, I hope, would help the orchestra to connect with the music on a deeper level, capturing the unique essence of each region,” Thanapol shared.

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Performing culturally-inspired from Genshin Impacts came with another set of challenges — not all instruments in the original composition could be used in the Singapore concert. The erhu, sitar, and sarangi for example, had to be substituted.

“Some orchestra members had expertise that helped establish the right stylistic foundation for the music, ensuring that we stayed true to the cultural nuances of the original compositions,” said Thanapol.

Genshin Concert 2023 ticket
Credit: Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

“The conductor, producer, and musicians elaborated on specific passages, introducing small musical elements that elevated the performance while preserving the essence of both the arrangements and the original compositions,” he added.

As you can see, game music has many nuances, and because its tied to a visual environment, it’s inevitably complex. Everything from its composition, to production, to performing live while understanding its context in-game is a layered process that is very unlike Classic music.

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Thanapol, like most conductors, is trained in Classical music, and feels most inspired by his composition and conducting teachers who “exemplified that music isn’t an isolated art form but a discipline that connects with other fields of study and is profoundly humanistic.”

He earned a conducting doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and has a Masters in music from New England Conservatory. In this field, “conductors usually work around the well-defined set of traditions,” he explains, because Classical pieces are historically well-established.

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“Video game music, on the other hand, exists and is mostly experienced in a different kind of context,” Thanapol elaborated. “Each piece accompanies scenes, locations, events which imprint into the player’s mind and will later become a memory they can recall.”

“For some players, hearing these familiar melodies doesn’t just evoke memories of the game’s events; it also triggers recollections of their own real-world experiences during the times they played the game too,” he said.

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His goal was to put himself in the shoes of Genshin players so that they can “re-experience” their favorite moments and memories they’ve gained when they listen to a live performance. Full-house for two nights, it was in turn rewarding for him to see passionate fans of the game show up in cosplay.

Conductor Thanapol Setabrahmana at Genshin Concert 2023 at Esplanade in Singapore posing with the official KV
Credit: thanapol_seta on Instagram

After all, Genshin Impact is a single-player role playing game — and this concert was a chance to see fans come together in a live event to share an experience beyond the game. “While the production team and performers strived to bring the finest performance to the stage, the audience’s response played a crucial role in elevating the energy of the entire event and shaping the overall atmosphere. It was a two-way communication,” said Thanapol.

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Beyond the game, he believes that it’s also important to appreciate game music as music, especially since orchestral renditions nowadays are superbly arranged. “Even without game context, they stand as high quality musical pieces in their own right,” said Thanapol. “So, as a conductor, I strive to do justice to these works artistically, ensuring that the audience experiences the full depth and beauty of the music, whether they are gamers or not.”

Conductor Thanapol Setabrahmana would like to express his gratitude to HoYoverse, Sony Music Solutions, Singapore Street Festival, 54 Entertainment, the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, and all working teams for their trust, support, and the opportunity to be a part of this magical event. 

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