Friday, July 6, 2012

Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses

Music is a very important, oft-neglected part of the video games we play. When a score is doing its work best, you rarely notice it. Blending in songs to fit with the environment, allowing them to be loopable, and avoiding becoming annoying are all difficult challenges most musical artists do not have to face. One of the best examples of a successful musical soundtrack exists within The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Each environment had its own feeling, ambiance, and sense of mystery because the music worked so well with each one. And this is not limited to just Skyward Sword; the entire Legend of Zelda series does a spectacular job of scoring its songs for the game. In fact,  job that the music stands on its own when heard out of context. So when I heard that The Legend of Zelda was showcasing its soundtrack during a live orchestrated event, I set out to find out exactly how well the songs would stand on their own. 

The answer? Spectacularly.

I obtained a box seat on the first level, within a stone’s throw of the stage, affording me a fantastic view of the screen, the musicians, and even the conductor’s video monitor. 

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

The video monitor was a clever idea, and one that I wish had been implemented more often in video game symphonies. I’m a long-time fan of the Distant Worlds concert, comprised of music from the Final Fantasy series, but when I saw their videos, the music seemed out of sync with the action on the screen. This small oversight did not ruin the show for me, but it certainly did suck some of the power out of the music as crescendos would reach their peak almost a second before the action on the screen could catch up. With this concert, however, visual cues were given to the conductor and a full rendering of what was happening on the screen, so she could be sure to keep the music at the same pace as the video. They synced up entirely well and did exactly what it was meant to do—reminded the audience of where they were when they first heard this music, how they felt, and brought them back to special times in their past that they shared with Link.

Eímear Noone, conductor of not only this and all other Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concerts, but also the music CD bundled with Skyward Sword, was spectacular.

Her conducting was right on point, kept pace quite well, and she managed the ensemble beautifully. However, she was not the person who really capped off the night for me. The creative director and producer for the tour, Jeron Moore, gave introductions to songs, was entertaining, and obviously knew his Zelda. (He's the one on the right)

The passion in his voice and his knowledge of the series made me feel right at home, and the show shined through as a labor of love on his part. He even mentioned taking audience feedback into account from earlier shows to put in more music, from Gerudo Fortress to Majora’s Mask. With every song introduction he did, I was reminded of myself talking about the soundtrack to the series I love so well. He made the show less of an intangible work of art and more of a love-letter from him, Eimear, and all of Nintendo to fans of the series. It was beautiful.

Three encores later, a grin had been painted on my face and it would not budge. Before making my way home, I purchased a shirt and poster to commemorate the night. Thought the shirt has not quite made it to my body, the poster now adorns my walls and adds at least 20% more class to my living space.

In short, the night was wonderful, not only because the music was well-played and arranged, but because of the people involved. The life of the show \was evident from the videos on screen to the nervous, yet charming creator on mic. I only hope they choose to do another run, this time with Skyward Sword music included.

The Legend of Zelda has burrowed deep into the hearts of gamers and there is no event that attests to this more than the concert, and this special, shared experience between the conductor, audience, and the game we love is one that I won’t soon forget.

Credit to Jeron Moore for his Instagram photos and the image from Eímear Noone's website for the image of her.
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