Music from The Legend of Zelda links nostalgic gamers to the past with live symphony event 

click to enlarge JOSE Z. LIM
  • Jose Z. Lim

Outside mustachioed plumber Mario and Pac-Man’s chomping cheese-wheel face, few video game characters are more universally recognizable than Link, The Legend of Zelda’s elvishly dressed protagonist.

Nintendo’s fantasy-adventure franchise has thrived in the hearts of gamers for more than 30 years. In that time, fans have grown attached not only to Link, Princess Zelda and the fairytale-like Hyrule kingdom but, through hours of gameplay, to the original musical score that has become a major part of the gaming experience.

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses brings the music out of home gaming consoles and into concert halls as the show tours the globe. The symphony makes its first stop in the state 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave.

“We’ve created a wonderful show with timely visuals,” said Jason Michael Paul, the show’s executive producer. “If you can imagine the soundtrack of your childhood being performed live with a full orchestra and a choir in perfect sync with the visuals from the game, it’s more or less a retelling of The Legend of Zelda through the visuals and music.”

Symphony of the Goddesses features a 66-musician orchestra and a 24-voice choir. Arranged with classical sensibilities, the show features two acts and four movements covering music from Zelda games The Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and more. A surprise finale caps off the show.

Symphony of the Goddesses launched its first tour in 2012. The Oklahoma City show signals the last scheduled stop for this leg of its Master Quest season, which began in January 2015. Paul said large gatherings of devoted fans have joined them at every stop along the journey.

“Zelda commands a huge audience,” Paul said. “It’s in a league of its own, to be honest with you.”

Great journey

Paul’s production company began working with Nintendo in 2011 to develop and produce a few one-off concerts promoting the game’s 25th anniversary in cities like Tokyo, London and New York City. He said the shows paved the way for an initial world tour and Symphony of the Goddesses.

Paul developed a working relationship with the Japanese game company even before 2011. He has produced other game-themed concert series in the past, including shows featuring scores from Final Fantasy and titles in and outside Nintendo.

His work within the Zelda franchise has been among his most successful.

“It’s been truly a remarkable journey to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m honored and privileged to be able to do what I do and bring this show to Oklahoma City and all the cities around the world.”

Symphony of the Goddesses almost always utilizes local orchestras or musicians for its programs. The Oklahoma City orchestra will be comprised of musicians from within the local chapter of the American Federation of Musicians.

“Not all musicians can perform with a local orchestra, so I think this is a great way to contribute to the local economy,” Paul said.

Missing Link

It’s an exciting time to be a Zelda fan. Nintendo’s newest game console, Nintendo Switch, is scheduled for a worldwide release in March. One of the system’s most anticipated games is Zelda’s 19th installment, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Promotional materials for the game have promised an open-world environment that allows gamers to conquer the map’s dungeons in any order. It’s the kind of free-wheeling adventure Paul says Zelda fans have always wanted.

“It’s just nice to see the progression and the way Nintendo has been able to utilize technology,” he said.

He said he plans to use music from the new game for another concert series.

The producer said those who attend the Symphony of the Goddesses show have almost universally praised it. The biggest bit of feedback Paul receives often comes from those who did not find out about the show until after its date in their city.

“That’s what really raises the hair on the back of my neck, because I don’t want anyone to miss this opportunity,” Paul said. “I want everyone to be able to experience it.”

The show is designed to pull the heartstrings of close fans, and Paul said those fans make these concerts rewarding for him.

“This show is nothing without the fans coming out to see it,” he said.


Print headline: Game score, The Legend of Zelda comes to life Jan. 21 at Civic Center Music Hall.

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