It doesn’t take an astute person to note that Zelda has one of the most iconic soundtracks in gaming ever. The melodies that signal intrigue or payoff have seeped into the general gaming culture, and the Fairy Fountain theme even made a cameo in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. In a marketplace that can sustain multiple touring companies playing videogame soundtracks, an all-Zelda show is a no-brainer.
When The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses extended me an invite to their Toronto show I expected little more than an evening of listening to the high fidelity renditions of songs that I am familiar with. I’m a Zelda fan – I’ve played every core console title, and finished most of them, but I tend not to get bogged down in the lore or overly invested in the characters.
Imagine my surprise then, when I found myself welling up during a boisterous rendition of the Ocean Theme from Wind Waker, watching the most cartoonishly rendered of all Links set off on an ocean voyage with steely determination etched on his face. I didn’t realize that this song from my youth had burrowed its way into my brain, but hearing the rich symphony had me looking up at him, my inner monologue remarking “look at him, he’s just a wee lad, he’s not ready for this.”
Of course, before I came to realize quite how deep my fondness for Koji Kondo’s score went, I had to find my seat at the Sony Centre. The lobby was packed full of eager fans, with dozens decked out in cosplay, and scores more eagerly Streetpassing on 3DS (myself included). There was a hum of excitement in the air, evocative of a fan-festival like PAX, as nerds of all stripes and ages lined up to enter the auditorium. My wife was grateful in equal measure for the proliferation of adults like us who had decided to dress up in their date-night finery, and to those in costume who afforded her an opportunity to brush up on her Zelda lore.
The set was broken up into a few themed segments, each introduced by a taped introduction from series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, or composer Koji Kondo, and generally bundled a few games together. All the expected console titles were represented (even if Skyward Sword didn’t get much representation), and Spirit Tracks and A Link Between Worlds were featured. The crowd were in rowdy form, which was encouraged by the show’s producer Jason Michael Paul as he introduced the conductor and musicians. Ecstatic squeals from the audience would reverberate from sections of the audience after a single note had sounded, so it was clear that some bonafide fans were in attendance.
The video packages were quite effective, serving as a ‘greatest hits’ from Link’s adventures, showing boss battles, panning shots of classic environments, and on some occasions, pivotal story moments. My wife is a few hours into Ocarina of Time for the first time, and before she show she asked if I expected any spoilers to appear in the video packages – given that Nintendo are typically spoiler averse, I reasoned that there wouldn’t be, especially since the N64 games were recently(ish) re-released on 3DS. I wasn’t expecting the final hour of Ocarina of Time to be summed up over the course of three minutes, but it’s easy (and somewhat more rewarding) to avert one’s eyes from the screen and focus on the music.
The Zelda Symphony isn’t the only videogame orchestra there is, but it’s certainly the most cohesive, focused celebration of videogame music I’ve encountered. I left the Sony Centre with an amped up desire to fill in the gaps on Zelda games I missed, and a deeper fondness for the franchise as a whole. To spend a few hours soaking up the good vibes and excellent music is an absolute pleasure, and the show’s success is being met with additional tour dates being booked across the US and abroad in 2015. I implore any Zelda fans or music lovers to check out the listings to see if you can make it to a show.