It was a peculiar coincidence. I’d woken up with a tune from a Zelda game in my head (probably the Song of Storms from Ocarina of Time) and was wondering if anyone had ever recorded Zelda music with real instruments. And then I stumbled upon a tweet mentioning a Zelda Symphony.
Ten minutes later I had tickets. And, after months of waiting, I got to go last week. And it was amazing.
My introduction to The Legend of Zelda series was through Ocarina of Time for the N64. This was Zelda’s first foray into 3D gaming and, I think, its finest outing. It’s big, epic, full of music and there’s time travel involved (I’m a sucker for time travel). Each Zelda game I’ve played since has always been compared to Ocarina, but none have ever come close.
The Symphony encompassed some of the great musical highs of the Zelda series. After the prelude we were presented with the movements which were based on one of four games: Ocarina of Time; Wind Waker; Twilight Princess; and Link to the Past. These were accompanied by clips from the respective game on a screen behind the orchestra. Which, by the way, was only the flipping Royal Philharmonic!
These movements were interspersed with introductions by either conductor Eimear Noone or producer Jeron Moore. Noone was obviously passionate about the music and the series, grinning like the rest of us when she produced with a flourish a replica of the Wind Waker baton. Moore wore his geek credentials on his sleeve, making cracks about the Water Temple from Ocarina and clearing up the true origin of Zelda’s Theme.
And the music itself was incredible. The Zelda series has always created great music but it’s been limited to synthetic instruments. Arranged and performed by a full orchestra, it was breathtaking. I’d listened to the 25th anniversary CD, but it doesn’t compare.
And the movements weren’t the entirety. Everyone came back for not one, not two, but three encores to play the Ballad of the Wind Fish, Gerudo Valley and an unexpected Majora’s Mask movement.
Highlights? Have to be:
• the unexpected Majora’s Mask movement; Majora’s Mask has some great music but always stands in Ocarina’s shadow;
• the Ocarina movement; it’s my favourite game and not on the 25th anniversary CD, so it was such a treat to hear it.
• the reaction to the Gerudo Valley introduction: one man screaming “YES!” at the top of his voice. Beautiful.
There was just one date in the UK but the Symphony continues to tour in other countries. If you’re a fan of Zelda you must go and see it. In fact I’d recommend it to any fan of classical or orchestral music.
And speaking of fans, check out these cosplayers. They posed for photos after the symphony was over. You have to admire the skill and dedication on display!