The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses - Master Quest Review
-The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess is a worldwide concert showcasing the timeless music from Nintendo's popular The Legend of Zelda franchise. The origins of the show date back to Jun 7, 2011; during Nintendo's press event for E3(Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles, Ca. Jason Michael Paul Productions produced a four-minute overture spanning 25 years of Zelda music accompanied by images and video from the same period. The medley concluded with the Skyward Sword main score - which is The Legend of Zelda Theme in reverse.
After the performance, Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto went on stage at E3 and spoke about how The Legend of Zelda and it's music has evolved over the years and how important the music is to the franchise. The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary concert series tour was then announced and the show would be expanded from just a four-minute song into a full concert to be performed in Tokyo, Los Angeles and London. Each of these concerts were extremely successful, with special appearances of Eiji Aonuma(Nintendo Director and Producer of The Legend of Zelda series), Koji Kondo(Renowned composer of top selling video games franchises such as The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and Super Mario Bros.) who also performed a solo on piano, Shigeru Miyamoto(Legendary video game creator of The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Super Mario Bros. and many more ) and Zelda Williams(daughter of late actor and comedian Robin Williams). Following these shows, the tour went worldwide in 2012 and became known as The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. Produced by Jeron Moore and arranged by music director Chad Seiter.
The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddess - Master Quest is conducted by Amy Andersson. Some background - Ms. Andersson began piano studies at an early age. She received her BMA from the University of Michigan and following graduate studies at Indiana University, received a MM in conducting from the Mannes College of Music in New York. She was awarded a conducting Fellowship to the Aspen Music School and her teachers have included Paul Vermel, Gustav Meier, Murray Sidlin, David Zinman, and the late Yakov Krezberg.
As the concert was set to start, Andersson walked out on stage to cheers from the enthusiastic audience. Without any time wasted, the Orchestra kicked off Act I of the show, with a popular collection of Zelda themes..
Act I of the concert began with the "Overture" consisting of The Legend of Zelda's Overture or "Main Theme", Ganondorf's Theme, Zelda's Lullaby, Hyrule Field and finally the Skyward Sword Theme.
As a long time fan of the Zelda series, hearing The Legend of Zelda Overture piece performed live by a complete orchestra, is really something to be experienced. The thunderous applause following the piece echoed my feelings completely. It's hard not to show your inner fan boy or girl when seeing this show's opening.
I've mentioned this to multiple people throughout the night but knowing full well, the time and care it takes it takes to properly sync music to video together—especially for a large scale project such as this concert—I need to point out how wonderfully the video matched the music being played. Whether it was a Boss Theme, Environmental Theme or Character Theme, the videos displayed the appropriate scenes. I also found it helpful, since I am not familiar with every single Zelda music piece out there, It helped show me from which game the music was being played, not only that but I discovered a couple new songs I have never heard before, that I really enjoyed. It got me interested in checking out the game it was written for.
I need to mention the lighting effects as well, when certain video clips were shown, the lighting above the orchestra would reflect the predominant colors of the scene(red, gold, green, ect.) and it would amplify the effect of the video and really, the music itself. Altogether, it could quite possibly the best video presentation I've seen in a video game concert thus far.
Following the fantastic overture, we see a short video message from the producer and co-director of The Legend of Zelda himself: Shigeru Miyamoto, as he reflects back on how simple the music was 25 years ago, its evolution over the years and how the games were designed for players to grow right alongside link as he travels though his adventures. Miyamoto's speech is the first of three Zelda creators/composers we hear from during the night. Next I'll break down the movements into individual musical pieces you'll hear during the show..
Gerudo Valley - Iconic song from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Boss Battle Medley - Which consists of the "Iron Knuckle"(from Ocarina of Time), "King Dodongo"(from Ocarina of Time), "Molgera"(from The Wind Waker), "Fraaz"(from Spirit Tracks) and "Fyrus"(from Twilight Princess) Boss Themes.
Suite from Majora's Mask - The suite includes the "Opening Theme", "Clock Town Music", "Goht Boss Battle Theme" and "Oath to Order" full-orchestral version.
A Link Between Worlds - Only two songs performed here "Hyrule Castle" and "Lorule Castle"(in the game A Link Between Worlds, the theme builds as you progress the castle).
After A Link Between Worlds finishes up, we see our second video message, this time from The Legend of Zelda Producer: Eiji Aonuma, as he speaks about his time producing The Legend of Zelda, exploring and finding new things for the franchise, where he hopes to see it go from here and then leaves us with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker..
Prelude: The Creation of Hyrule - The Prelude begins with the opening "Creation Story" from The Ocarina of Time. Then the "Zelda Series Main Theme" begins with the lead violinist and then the entire orchestra joins in.
Movement I: Ocarina of Time - This movement contains a number of songs "Meeting Ganondorf/Zelda's Lullaby", "Deku Tree", "Title Theme", "Hyrule Field", "Lost Woods", "Sheik", "Ganondorf Battle", and finally "Last Battle".
Movement II: The Wind Waker - This movement contains the following Wind Waker songs "The Legendary Hero", "Outset Island", "Inside the Pirate Ship", "Reunion With Sister", "Ocean", "Wind Hero", "Ganondorf Battle" and "Staff Credits".
-After a brief Intermission(about 15 minutes or so) we continue with the second act..
Intermezzo: Great Fairy's Fountain - Aside from The Main Theme and Zelda's Lullaby, the Great Fairy's Fountain is one of the most recognizable songs in the Zelda series. An ethereal piece.
Next, we receive our third video message of the night from the legendary composer himself, Koji Kondo. He speaks about his time composing the music for the Zelda series, how music is a vital part of the emotional connection between the player and the world of Zelda, then says he hopes we enjoy the rest of the show with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and A Link to the Past.
Movement III: Twilight Princess - Now to my personal favorite game of the series. Movement III consists of "Title Theme", "Light Spirits", "Midnas Theme", "Hyrule Field Main Theme(choir added in this version)", "The Sealing of Ganondorf", "Ganondorf Battle(Final Phase)" and ends with a medley of "Midna's Farewell/Zelda's Theme" which was absolutely beautiful, you could honestly feel the emotion from the performance. Probably my favorite piece of the entire concert.
Movement IV: Time of the Falling Rain - This movement focuses on A Link to the Past. Here we have "Opening Theme", "Hyrule Castle", "Zelda's Lulliby", "Dungeon Music", "Agahnim Battle", "Dark World: Overworld", "Ganon Battle", "Ending Credits" and finally the triumphant "Legend of Zelda Main Theme". This last piece of the main show was my second favorite of the night, it was played perfectly and a great way to conclude the show.. or is it?
-Following Movement IV, we're given one last message from Nintendo Producer: Eiji Aonuma and Director: Shigeru Miyamoto. Wishing us well and hoping we enjoyed the show. Once the message was finished, the crowed continued to cheer and applaud, chants for an encore began. Then, the composer returned back to the stage.
Encore - The encore featured songs from Majora's Mask, such as "Song of Healing", "Termina Field", "Deku Palace", "Song of Time"(short ocarina melody), and finishing up with the popular "Clock Town".
-After Clock Town was finished and the crowd stated to cheer, the Conductor put her hand to her hear and urged the audience to cheer louder(and, yeah.. it got loud) and then carried us into the second encore.
Second Encore - "Dragon Roost Island"(recognizable theme of the large volcanic island from The Wind Waker).
-Once Dragon Roost Island finished up, the Conductor left the stage again, leaving us with dimmed lights and enthusiastic fans. This time - after about 20 seconds or so of continuous applause - she peeked out from the back of the stage and as the audience began chanting encore, she put her hand to hear ear again and waited for the applause to grow. She showed a playful dissatisfaction with the audience by shaking her head side-to-side and once the applause and cheering grew louder, she returned back to the stage for the third and final encore of the night..
Third Encore - The final encore showcased two songs from most recent of the main installments The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword "Ballad of the Goddess"(neat tidbit is that Zelda's Lullaby can be heard playing Ballad of the Goddess in reverse) and Fi's Theme".
With the conclusion of the third encore and finally, the concert; the main video screen showed the Amy Andersson as she signaled for each section of the orchestra to stand for their applause, one after the next, until they were all standing together. It was nice to see that they were all having fun time; giving each other high fives, shaking hands and some of them holding their instruments up high as they stood. Last but certainly not least, the lead violinist stood up next to the conductor for the loudest applause of the night. Then as everyone begins to leave, the credits started to scroll on the screen.
There was some decent merchandise available to purchase, such as: Posters, Shirts, and Sheet Music. But It wasn't exactly well stocked(at least for my show anyway), by the end of the program when I went over to see what was left most of the shirts were sold out and some of the posters were sold out. Granted, the concert itself had to be sold out or at least close to it because the place was packed but compared to a few other symphonies I've attended, after the show is finished there was still plenty of merch to go around. That being said, after I left the concert I was able to order a poster and a few shirts through their website (link: http://zelda-symphony.com/collections/all) and once I received my order, I was glad to see the poster was a high-quality print and images on the shirt were made with care and look great.
One thing I was looking forward to purchasing that I couldn't find at the concert or their website was an Official CD containing the various acts of the concert. I know there is the limited "25th Anniversary Symphony" release(which I own) but that is only available with the purchase of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii and not purchasable separately. Even then, The Symphony of the Goddess has been adding more Zelda games to its shows(such as Majora's Mask and A Link Between Worlds) that are excluded from the 25th Anniversary Symphony. It's something that I hope they can eventually release and continue to update, just like how the FINAL FANTASY concert Distant Worlds has a new album release every couple years as they continue to update their catalogue of songs played at their concerts, as a comparison.
The price of our seats were just a few dollars more than what I paid back in 2012 and they're competitive when comparing the price to similar concerts. There were no options for VIP passes or meet and greets with pictures or autographs when I purchased my tickets. Which is a bit disappointing but I checked online and see that they do occasionally offer VIP tickets at some of their shows, just not the ones I happened to attend. Of course, I would love the opportunity to meet the Zelda composers at a meet and greet such as Koji Kondo, Toru Minegishi and Kenta Nagata but I don't see any available options in the near future to do so. I'm sure it would be a little work getting maybe one or two of them on tour around the world and I may just be thinking out loud here but - hey, I know I'm not the only one that would love to meet these great composers at an actual Zelda concert. Just an idea I wanted to throw out there.
There's something I thought I'd mention, and that's the applause and cheering were a little much as times. Sometimes the applause would break out in the middle of a piece being played and it sort of distracts from enjoying the show. It wasn't to the point where it was unbearable but I heard a few other attendees speaking about it on the way out of the symphony as well. I don't remember that being my expereince a few years ago so maybe it was just an isolated incident.
Overall, It was an very enjoyable. At no time is it boring or does it leave you looking around waiting for the next piece. The pacing is certainly prompt, they do need to fit a large number of tracks into the show so it's understandable there isn't much time in between movements. One thing that the Master Quest show seemed to lack is some involvement that my first show had from its original creators Chad Seiter and Jeron Moore. What I mean by that is when I first attended in 2012(I can't speak for the "Second Quest" in 2013) one of the creators would come out on stage between an act and speak about the Zelda series from their perspective, which games were their favorite, give a rundown on which pieces are up and coming, interact with the audience and finally what gave them the inspiration to create The Symphony of the Goddess. The 2012 concert was like Distant Worlds in a way where Arnie Roth would turn around after a finishing a performance and say a few words about one of the next pieces he was about to conduct, which ones were his personal favorites and so on. I guess what I mean is that the Master Quest seemed to lack a bit of a personal touch. That doesn't at all take away from the fantastic performances of the night. Which were certainly memorable.
A lot of us that enjoy video games have grown up with these timeless compositions and no matter how old we get, they hold a special part in our lives. Something that this show does well is it helps you remember. In our busy lives sometimes we just forget how much fun we had with The Legend of Zelda series. When I heard the opening Overture Theme during my first attendance in 2012(and even still with this show), there were so many different memories that came rushing back from growing up with the Zelda franchise over the years. It really doesn't matter if you grew up with The Legend of Zelda on NES, Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64, The Wind Waker on Gamecube or even more recently with Skyward Sword on the Wii; different titles, different generations, each one contains a certain value from our childhood and a well orchestrated show like The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses is a great way to share those memories with friends, siblings, or your kids. There's something here for everyone to enjoy.