I've been to a lot of game music concerts over the years: Dear Friends, More Friends, Distant Worlds, Video Games Live, PLAY!, and more. I think it's great that we're seeing music from this popular medium getting this kind of attention from orchestras around the world. While I had the pleasure of sitting with Chad during The Legend of Zelda 25th anniversary concert in Los Angeles last year, I admittedly missed out when Tony, Steven, Brett, and Patrick attended the full-blown tour stop of Symphony of the Goddesses.
Well, I corrected that. Dale and I had the pleasure of attending a recent show, and we were both impressed by the night's musical offerings. But rather than provide another lengthy write-up about our experience, I figured I'd suggest five reasons why you need to check this tour out before the 2012 season wraps up.
#5 - Cosplay
Most of the concerts I mentioned above have some kind of costume contest, but the quality of cosplay I've seen at these shows has been pretty exceptional. We saw a ton of concert-goers dressed up as Link and Zelda, but there were a few unexpected costumes including Minish Cap Link, Sheik, and Tingle. It was also great seeing everyone from younger kids to adults getting in on the action, and of course, lots of female Link. Need I say more?
#4 - A varied program drawing from across the entire franchise
The team at JMP Productions has prepared a very well-rounded concert featuring music from across the entire franchise. For me, the two most important Zelda titles are the original The Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past (still my personal favorite). Not only does A Link to the Past get an entire 10-mintue suite dedicated to it, but Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess also get their moments in the spotlight. And that's just the core "Symphony of the Goddesses" portion. There's everything from Link's Awakening to "Great Fairy Fountain" and "Kakariko Village" as well.
#3 - A ton of music
The concert lasted a good two hours, including three encores! Who does that? I felt completely satisfied by the time the concert ended, so the fact that we even got a single encore was a surprise. But fans kept clapping, and producer Jeron Moore came back to the stage two more times to introduce another piece. Maybe they could have included these tracks in the main program and had fewer encores, but I have to admit that it makes each and every performance feel really special, especially when you hear the opening notes of your favorite song that you started believing you weren't going to hear that night.
#2 - Fantastic arrangements
Chad Seiter, the primary arranger for the concert, has done an amazing job bringing these individual pieces to the orchestra. I'll now gush about individual pieces performed at the concert.
"Dungeons Medley" comes in at the beginning of the concert, and it will engross you immediately as nostalgic boss battles play out on the screen above the stage and familiar melodies grace your ears. This was one of my favorite pieces of the night, despite its rather dark atmosphere. While I wasn't particularly looking forward to "Kakariko Village," it also stood out for its whimsical yet emotional performance.
We also dug the montage of the chicken swarms through various Zelda games. Finally, "Great Fairy Fountain," with dueling harps, was simply beautiful. There's an alternate version of this arrangement on the CD that came with Skyward Sword, but you need to hear this arrangement live to appreciate it fully.
#1 - A story told through music
Again, as noted in #4, this is a concert for series fans. The addition of the screen above the stage allows
the production team to score the key moments of the games in real time. Transitions are well thought out, and you're essentially able to relive your own experiences with each of the games throughout the course of the concert. This is particularly true during the four-movement "Symphony of the Goddesses" portion.
As an example, The Wind Waker is probably my least favorite of the four games that get their own segment in the "Symphony of the Goddesses," but the upbeat and cleverly-sequenced pairing of music and visuals makes it one of my favorite moments of the show. Similarly, I found the Twilight Princess movement very touching as it highlights the relationship between Link and Midna.
Even though A Link to the Past is my favorite Zelda game and soundtrack, I was surprised to find that it wasn't my favorite moment from the concert (even though it was also amazing), due almost entirely to this element of storytelling with music being so strong with the other movements.
This concert is really something you need to experience for yourself. And you'll need to do it before the end of 2012, as there's no certainty that it will continue beyond that time. Get concert dates and ticket information at the tour's official website.
Have you experienced Symphony of the Goddesses and want to share your impressions of the show with us? Do you agree that your favorite game in the series may not be your favorite moment of the concert
[Photos from the Los Angeles performance courtesy of Andrew Craig]