I LOVE the Legend of Zelda Games. While each individual game might not be in my top 10, as a series and a formula I love the way that it works. One of the best parts of the Zelda series is the wonderful, magical music that accompanies you as you venture through dark caverns, wide open oceans, and blooming forests. When the first season of the Zelda Symphony came out back in 2012, I was devastated that it didn’t come to Saint Louis. I considered trying to find a way to make it to Chicago, but it just wasn’t going to work in my schedule. Then, in October 2014, they announce a second season (technically third) and IT’S COMING TO STL!!!!! WOOT! I went to it today and it was absolutely epic.
Back in 2012, Stephen Totillo posted about his experience at the first tour of the Zelda concert. Thankfully, they had refined and improved the formula to address many of his misgivings.
The concert was organized into three sections: An opening overture and various Interludes and medley’s, a first act with two movements, and a second act with two more movements and a couple of extra encore songs.
The opening interludes were absolutely fantastic, probably the most “creative” and “arranged” of the whole concert. Each piece was carefully chosen and then re-worked to make it fill up it’s own space. It all felt more full and distinct than I expected. Gerudo Valley (one of the best Zelda pieces ever) took on a new identity and took on tones I hadn’t heard before. The Boss Battle Medley had a couple of important themes like the mini-boss theme from OOT, but it also had rare, but equally fantastic pieces like Molgera and Fraaz which were surprising and well-done arrangements. Probably my favorite part of the overtures was the arrangement of the Majora’s Mask music. They took the variation of the Clock Town theme from the final day and added more nuance to it. Previously, Theophany’s rendition of Clock Town was my favorite for that same reason, being able to subtly infuse the oncoming dread of the Termina’s inevitable demise, and then be able to infuse that into the music. But the Symphony blew my socks off by doing an even better job. It’s just barely in the background, but you can still feel it tear at your heart and sanity as it plays, knowing that you fight against the inevitable unless you can change fate. Just UGH!!! SOGOODERMAGERD!!!!!
After that they moved into the first “Act” which was pretty great. A lot of the music would directly correspond to what was happening on the screen, so as they moved from piece to piece you could feel the emotions from your memories as you relived those epic moments. “The Creation” was especially cool, seeing the creation scene from OOT while simultaneously hearing a full on symphonic accompaniment. The rest of Movement I and II were good, OOT and WW both had fantastic music, so being able to hear those pieces again (despite regularly listening to Zelda music on my phone) was awesome in the concert hall. Outset Island, especially pulled at my heart-strings, and Ganondorf’s theme and Zelda’s lullaby are two of the most recognizable pieces of gaming music in general.
Act II was also fairly solid. The music in Zelda games has continued to get better and better with each passing year, and I had forgotten how wonderful the music in Twilight Princess was. The theme for Hyrule Field, despite not liking the field itself that much, was absolutely stellar. And they finished with a LTTP movement which was phenomenal. Listen to those chipper 16-bit tunes no more, welcome to the Symphonic Age, Link to the Past, welcome indeed.
As Stephen noted in his article though, they bizarrely decided to include a double encore, which is better than a triple encore, but still more frustrating than it needed to be. It would have even been fine if they hadn’t included those songs in the program, because then it would have actually been a pleasant surprise. Instead it came across as self-indulgent and silly. They did include significantly more slow/character building/exploration music in this concert, so I think it was an improvement over the structure when Stephen went and saw it.
Interspersed throughout all of this were little videos by Koji Kondo, the Nintendo music god himself, Miyamoto and Aounuma. These helped break up the pace and made it feel more official. The only other small little quibble is that they lifted one or two arrangements directly from their 25th anniversary album. It was still wonderful to hear in person, but it felt just a smidge lazy. Other than that, it was pretty much a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
I had an absolutely stellar time and it was totally worth the $25 to go. I only wish they had a CD with all 2 hours of the concert. I would pay GOOD money for that. Alas, my 25th anniversary CD will have to do. If it comes into your home town, definitely go. I can guarantee you won’t regret it. You could probably even get your money’s worth if you had to drive a couple hours. The show is only 2.5 hours, so you wouldn’t have to stay overnight or anything. It really was an absolutely phenomenal experience.
Have a great week guys.