Since the introduction of the iconic theme song on the NES in 1986, the body of music that has grown out of the Legend of Zelda series has been nothing short of legendary. Beginning with modest 8-bit sounds and eventually evolving into the sweeping sonatas in modern games, the songs have grown into something much more than simple backing tracks. The music became so important across the games that, beginning with Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64, music eventually bridged the gap and became a major element of gameplay.
Recognizing the import role it plays and how influential it has been in the lives of so many Zelda fans, Jason Michael Paul Productions has decided to bring the music to life in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. Returning for its third tour with the subtitle Master Quest, Symphony of the Goddesses aims to recreate the excitement and drama of the Zelda series through live performance and visual flair. The current tour has just recently begun, and we were lucky enough to be in attendance at the Seattle, Washington show, listening to the symphonic melodies as performed by a full orchestra and choir.
The symphony itself followed the same four-movement setup as the previous tours, with game-specific medleys sprinkled in-between. As the orchestra and choir played onstage, scenes from the various games were projected on a screen above them, adding to the dynamism of the music and reminding viewers exactly where the songs came from. The screen was used particularly well during a medley of battle themes, creating a sense of excitement and tension as Link battled his way through hoards of enemies. New to this Master Quest tour was the addition of music from A Link Between Worlds and additional songs from Majora's Mask in celebration of its recent 3DS re-release, all of which fit perfectly along with the already established set list.
The show was about the music, but there were messages from some familiar faces that made their way onto the screen between pieces. Unsurprisingly, these messages about the Zelda series and its music came from series creators Eiji Aonuma, Shigeru Miyamoto, and composer Koji Kondo. They were mostly about the history of the series, but the short messages contained a surprising amount of insight into what makes the Legend of Zelda series so important to its fans. As Mr. Miyamoto explained, the games are meant to follow Link as he grows through his adventures, and they're designed to allow players to grow right alongside him. Zelda fans have a personal connection to the games, and the music helps to make that bond grow stronger.
Symphonies are traditionally more formal events, but there was no cohesion here. Rather than being reserved for the well-dressed upper class, the audience was, instead, a mixed bag of people from all walks of life. There were the expected attendees in dresses and ties, but this group seemed to be a minority among the crowd. The vast majority of people in attendance were sporting Zelda and Nintendo themed attire, some even going so far as to dress up as their favourite characters. While some may scoff at the idea of wearing a t-shirt or costume to the symphony, it seemed acceptable here, pointing to the vigour and vitality of the Zelda community.
Not only was there a variety of dress, but the audience also ranged drastically in age. There were older fans who had been around since the beginning, waiting in anticipation for the fully orchestrated version of their favourite chip tunes, as well as young players who clearly convinced their parents to take them out on a school night. Whether someone had been playing since the NES days or they had just been introduced to the series by the Wind Waker's HD reissue, the sense of community among the fans was strong. The target audience may not have been clear by looking at the crowd, but one thing was certain: the music and games presented were important to everyone in attendance, and everyone had their own unique way of expressing that.
From start to finish, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses has something for everyone in attendance. From series veterans, to newcomers who have yet to experience the full array of music, and everyone else in-between, it's undeniable that this show holds a universal appeal. Not only is this a chance to hear some of the best music in gaming in a live format, but it's also a whole new way to experience something that many fans hold so close to heart. If you have the opportunity to see this legendary show on its current tour, you would be remiss to let it pass you by before it's sealed away for good.
With thanks to Massimo Gallotta Productions, who arranged for our tickets.