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Feature: Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert Report

Posted by Mat Allen

London, Eiji Aonuma, Koji Kondo, Zelda Williams, legendary

After a successful first show at the Pantages theatre in Los Angeles, The Legend of Zelda 25th anniversary symphony took in London's Hammersmith Apollo with a sold-out show that celebrated the series' captivating music.

Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma took to the stage to introduce the concert, the audience lapping up his every sentence, cheering his welcome and booing talk of a fan who recorded and uploaded the LA concert. Aonuma left the stage after introducing conductor Eímear Noone, who in turn introduced the second special guest of the evening: Zelda Williams.

Williams – named after the legendary princess by her father Robin Williams, of course – admitted her nerves at facing such a crowd but kept the tone light and her appearances brief, introducing tunes in blocks rather than individually. Later in the show she spoke of her love for the series in a surprisingly touching section that drew loud applause from the audience.

The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the 24-strong Capital Voices choir combined to present select tunes from a quarter-century of Link's adventures: from the classic overworld theme of The Legend of Zelda to a The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword encore, this was a selection designed to dip in and out of moods and themes, a pick-and-mix representation of the series' huge musical scope.

There were obvious highlights: the medley of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker tunes took in its intro theme, Outset Island, The Great Sea and more as in-game footage played on a giant screen behind the orchestra. Link's first cel-shaded outing may still divide fans, but in this context its artistry shone through: musical motifs blended together as the video perfectly captured its sense of adventure. It's still among the most beautiful games Nintendo has produced. Also as the show headed towards its close, none other than Koji Kondo himself made a special appearance with a solo performance on piano before briefly addressing the audience with a few warmly received words.

The only minor flat notes were in a tour of the orchestra, where individual instruments and sections played through all 19 ocarina melodies from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask: while memorable in-game, in this setting they felt more like filler.

Taking in over 40 pieces of music – not including the Ocarina melodies or a cheeky compendium of jingles – the symphony was more than just a collection of fantastic tunes expertly arranged and performed: it was a celebration of the series' adventurous spirit and the sense of wonder and exploration that have captured gamers' imagination over the years.

The most striking part of the whole evening was how far Zelda has come in the past 25 years: what started out as an 8-bit adventure inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto's exploration of the fields around his home has become one of the most respected series in the industry. The players who took their first steps into Hyrule in 1986 could hardly have imagined they'd one day sit in a packed theatre to hear an orchestra perform that iconic theme, nor that they would one day control Link's every sword slash and item with motion controls.

It was a night enjoyed by all and filled with affection for Zelda, its music and the talented developers, musicians and performers who have all shaped one of the most influential and well-regarded gaming series of our time.

We're now only a few weeks away from the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a game that's taken five years to develop, with Eiji Aonuma himself hoping it represents the series as a whole. We're led to believe that the first production run of Skyward Sword will include a bonus audio-CD recording of last night's performance, so don't forget to pre-order your copy today.

According to recent reports a "World Tour" of the Zelda Symphony will take place in 2012, with further details to be announced soon.

We would like to thank Nintendo and all the special guests for a fantastic evening of entertainment.


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User Comments (36)



alLabouTandroiD said:

Nice you had fun there, Mat. It really sounds like it was an amazing night to celebrate Zelda and video game music in general.
Since i visit (mostly Metal) concerts quite often i've got a few questions 'bout it.

  • There were no standing places, the whole audience was sitting in seats, right ?
  • When did the show start, when did it end ? Was there a mid-concert-break where nothing happened on stage ?

While it would have been amazing if they made a DVD or BluRay with the entire concert i guess that would have been a bit too expensive. Still ooking forward to get the audio CD with Skyward Sword of course.



SuperDel said:

It was an amazing event. One of the best nights of my life. How can you not mention Koji Kondo's appearance and solo performance? That was a highlight for me. Just amazing!



gamepopper said:

I had a great time there with my sister. Sadly I had to leave and miss most of the second part to catch the last train to Stafford, which I missed...

Although I wish it didn't take over an hour to start, I know they needed time for people to get to their seats, but when you start over an hour after the ticket time, it gets frustrating. If it started earlier I would've missed less.



timp29 said:

Sounds great. I've never been to a performance of classical music, but would have gladly gone to this. Colour me jealous



antdickens said:

@battLeToaD there were no standing places, it really wasn't that kind of event! The first performance was between 7.30-8.45 we then had a 15-20 interval before the second half which was between 9.15-10.15 (including the encore). It was being recorded (video cameras were there) but we doubt it would be released on DVD.

@SuperDel you're quite right, we've included a special mention now!

@gamepopper you're not alone, our very own James Newton had to leave half way through in order to catch his train home - he was not happy!



alLabouTandroiD said:

Thanks @antdickens.
It wasn't meant as crticism, just to better understand what the atmosphere must have been like. And it really sounds like they did about the best you can do with such a concert. I figured it would be like this but asking never hurts, right.



Dyl_73 said:

The time on tickets always means door opening time. Concerts, gigs, cinemas, shows, you name it. They're hardly going only allow a few minutes to get everyone seated. And there are always latecomers so they need to allow plenty of time. You should plan ahead better.



antdickens said:

@Dyl_Doe your right, the official start time was 7.30 - it only started a few minutes late.

@Iz20XX as I wasn't at the American one I can't say for sure - the crowd we're great.



Crafton said:

I was actually lucky enough to win tickets to this concert through club Nintendo!
The music was top notch & it was great to be with so many other fans Managed to complete all my street pass jigsaws too.



Corbs said:

While I enjoyed the pieces they performed at E3, I don't think I could sit through something this lengthy consisting of only orchestrated music. At least not without someone poking me to wake me up every 10 minutes.



Mayhem said:

Yeah, things were great heh, and never boring. I guess it helped that things were broken up, and none of the pieces were that long (although the Wind Waker stuff seemed to last about ten minutes). Really glad that I was able to go



James said:

I could have listened to the Wind Waker music all night. I love it.



Corbs said:

I might have, but I tend to prefer the music as part of the gaming experience, not so much outside of it.



Grackler said:

It was great, and a Streetpass bonanza! Koji Kondo's Grandma's Theme on the piano was a superb treat at then end.



Jazzem said:

It was a terrific show, worth going up from Cardiff for! Can't wait to listen to the songs again via the bonus disk that comes with Skyward Sword



Omarzuqo said:

I wanted to go to one of the concerts, but seeing those cosplayers really turned me off.



Ren said:

Wow this sounds like it was really cool. I went to Youtube to hear some of it, but indeed it sounds like the crowd of gamers would have made it frustrating; acting like it's a sporting, event yelping at every familiar theme. I hope the CD does come with Skyward.
You all should go check out some more live classical music with a full orchestra, there's really nothing quite like it. Most big cities or university towns have occasional cheap or free concerts, or just get far away (cheaper) tickets for a big orchestra. Beethoven, Dvorjak, or Bach are good to start with.
Don't mind the stodgy crowd, music is for anyone if you can sit still for an hour. Too many people think classical is for 'old people', but you'll come around once you hear a live show.



Mayhem said:

@Ren - The recorded LA concert was nothing like how it was in London last night... we applauded before and after each performance, but the entire crowd was pretty much silent during them. Guess we're a bit more controlled heh.

@Omarzuqo - There were only a handful of cosplayers, probably 20-25 in total compared to the thousands who attended.

Streetpasses were all over the place apparently. I spoke to a couple of guys who had come from Sweden during the interval, and one of them said he'd already gotten over 100 at the event.



Aqueous said:

I wanted to go but I would have needed a passport, method of travel, etc, etc



grenworthshero said:

I've always wanted to go to one of these video game concert events, but it would probably just piss me off, since the majority of people don't seem to grasp concert etiquette for an orchestra setting.



Kagamine said:

question, the last symphony i went to had a background that changed and flowed with the music. was there videos of zelda games or images from it that changed to go along with the symphony?



Ai64 said:

It must be a night to remember! Zelda 25th anniversary is win! =D



Mayhem said:

Someone in the crowd shouted out "you're gorgeous" about halfway through her last presentation, which made her giggle and go red a bit. Guess it was handy that her dad was honeymooning in Paris currently (Robin got married on Sunday) heh...



LeeGarbutt said:

It was a truly magical evening, well worth the price of admission! I longed for some Zelda II/Link's Awakening love, but unfortunately I found myself wanting.

Still, words cannot convey the shock and awe displayed by the audience when Koji Kondo showed up!



KM1981 said:

@antdickens There were a handful of standing places available as my fiancee and I had two of them. Our vision of the orchestra and big screen was a little obscured but it was such a wonderful, amazing experience to just be there that it didn't matter. My feet were a little tired by the end of night though - I needed some Hover Boots to get me home!

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