This past weekend I had the privilege to be invited to The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert in Minneapolis, MN at the historic Orpheum Theatre. This stop was the U.S. debut of a new set of music, which includes a brand new Breath of the Wild medley arrangement. So, even if you’ve attended one of these tours before, there’s plenty of new stuff here to keep you entertained.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend several video game orchestrated concerts over the years. Even as a teenager playing the NES I always had an appreciation for catchy video game tunes. As geeky as it sounds, I still remember holding up a tape recorder to my television to record various game music. From classic 8-bit games like Castlevania, Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, and Blaster Master, to the amazing 16-bit audio found in Actraiser, Final Fantasy II & III, and Zelda: A Link to the Past, I fell in love with video game music at an early age and still have an appreciation today.
Of course, The Legend of Zelda series is known for many things, like its amazing sense of exploration and adventure, fantastic gameplay mechanics, intriguing storylines, fun and exciting graphical changes, and of course its stellar music. From the opening title screen of the original Zelda to the latest piano notes of Breath of the Wild, each Zelda game builds upon the solid foundation of the rest to create a stirring, emotional, and memorable soundtrack. In fact, some of the games (Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Windwaker) allow the player to create music in the game as a way to progress. This extra layer of music creation allows each player to connect to the games’ soundtracks in a way rarely seen elsewhere. It’s this connection that I think resonates with so many gamers worldwide.
That’s why it’s an absolute treat to get to see a full orchestra play some tracks from our cherished games. Every person has his or her own favorite Zelda games, and within those titles a favorite song or two. It’s impossible for each tour to play the crowd’s absolute favorites, but this latest concert does an amazing job of integrating many different pieces into two hours.
Part of what makes the experience so magical is that there is a projection screen above the orchestra showing scenes from the game as the soundtrack is being played. The editing is pretty spot-on and fits the orchestrations nicely. One nice touch is that interspersed throughout the show we get to hear from Mr. Miyamoto, Mr. Aonuma, and Mr. Kondo. Each of them talks a bit about what Zelda means to them and they seem so gracious that we took the time out of our night to come and listen to the music they created over the years.
One thing that’s always fun to witness when going to these types of events is what kind of crowd is in attendance. Indeed, fellow Nintendo Times Radio podcaster Ben Imdieke was unsure of the proper attire for an event like this, and asked what I’d be wearing. Typically when someone goes to a show at the Orpheum, they’re probably dressed in suits, ties, and dresses. This being a video game concert, though, it’s quite the mixed bag. You’ll have some people dressed up like a normal night out to the theatre, then others in gaming-related t-shirts, and even others in complete cosplay outfits.
For the record, I wore a more subdued jeans and a sweater with a small Zelda button for good measure. It’s apparent from the get-go that this isn’t your typical symphony outing, and in fact the producer of the event, Jason Michael Paul, came on stage at the beginning and encouraged fans to get excited and clap and hoot and holler when they hear they’re favorite music being played. I often wonder what the orchestra members are thinking, especially if this is their first video game concert. I doubt crowds at non-gaming events get nearly as excited or vocal.
This was my second Zelda concert I’ve been to, and they were both fantastic times. My absolute favorite part came toward the end with “Time of the Falling Rain”, an arrangement of various A Link to the Past tracks that was simply amazing. Even though I love the game, I felt Ocarina of Time might have gotten a little too much play throughout the evening, and as usual Zelda II pretty much got the shaft (although the opening sequence did show off some clips from the game). The Windwaker segments were glorious and moving – easily some of my favorite parts of the entire show.
If you get a chance to attend The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, I highly recommend it. The combination of amazing music and visuals make it a must-see for Zelda fans. It’s a great time for all ages! For information on the tour schedule and ticketing information, be sure to go here.