Last night Gemakei was in attendance for the The Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary Symphony at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. Nintendo had gone all out with decorating the place on the outside with lots of billboards and posters for the event, as well as this year’s Zelda releases. Inside Nintendo had brought the Skyward Sword demo for play as well as a few kiosks for Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Ocarina of Time 3D. The symphony itself was performed by the Orchestra Nova from San Diego, and conducted by Eimear Noone. Also in attending the symphony was Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma and Zelda Music Supervisor Koji Kondo.
The symphony was split between singular pieces, medleys, and symphonic movements for specific games. The night started with Hyrule Castle from A Link to the Past and followed by Princess Zelda’s Theme. It was then that we were treated to our first symphonic movement to The Wind Waker. What was really special about these movements is how they weave a tale that is accompanied on screen by cutscenes and gameplay from the title. The movement would go from beginning to end, so Aonuma warned the audience there would be spoilers aplenty.
We then got a rather interesting take on all the ocarina songs from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, where the conductor would introduce each area of the orchestra who would then play a specific song. It finally culminated into a choir and orchestra rendition of Saria’s Song played during the credits of Ocarina of Time, really great stuff.
Our first medley of the night was the boss battle medley, and this included mostly series favorites such as King Dodongo, Volvagia, Molgera, and Fyrus. The chorus here was woefully underused and not even that audible during Molgera. I also would have really loved to have heard Blizzeta from Twilight Princess.
The next singular piece that played was Kakariko which sounded great but what was also surprising was how the piece ended, with music from rescuing Colin in Twilight Princess in Kakariko. Beautiful way to end the piece. The last song of the first half was a medley of favorite themes from all over the series, most notable was the Spirit Tracks field theme and Dragon Roost Island from The Wind Waker.
The next piece was a special short suite to some of the lesser known Zelda tunes, it started with the dungeon theme from The Legend of Zelda then went to Level 9 from the same game. We also got to hear The Lost Woods from A Link to the Past, the house theme from Ocarina of Time as well as sneaking around Hyrule Castle Gardens. There was also the Mayors Office and the bar music from Majora’s Mask. While this was an awesome treat to here, I think this piece could have been longer and covered even more obscure Zelda music.
The next song was a fan favorite, Gerudo Valley. One of Kondo’s most popular pieces, this all new arrangement did not disappoint. The entire song was rewritten for orchestra, including a brand new opening and ending part. When the orchestra got into full swing it was triumphant. This was a lot of people’s favorite piece that I talked to after the show and it’s not hard to understand why.
Next we were treated to an almost tear inducing blast of nostalgia with the Hyrule Field them from Ocarina of Time. The orchestra played both the normal, quiet, and intense moments of the theme offering a full encompassing piece to the beloved track.
As we moved into the last three pieces of the night, we were given a beautiful rendition of the Great Fairy’s Fountain on two giant harps and eventually the whole orchestra and choir.
The second to last piece was the second symphonic movement, this time to Twilight Princess. Starting with the title screen you could tell this was going to be one hell of a performance. The somber, epic, beautiful fantasy of Twilight Princess really came alive with this movement and really showed how insane anyone is to have ever thought Twilight Princess was weak on the music front. As noted earlier, things got really amazing as the movement headed into the final battle with Ganondorf with the massive drums and male chorus. Finally ending with the second half of the credits, as Midna returned to the Twilight Realm it was really touching to see and hear the conclusion of one the best games ever live.
The last piece was a special arrangement of the classic theme, drawn from both the first Legend of Zelda as well as the Light World from A Link to the Past. This was the suitably epic and nostalgic ending you would hope for from the symphony, but it wasn’t over yet.
After a standing ovation, Koji Kondo came out and performed Grandma’s Theme from The Wind Waker on the piano and it was mesmerizing to watch a master performing his craft. After that we were treated to an encore performance of the Skyward Sword theme played to the brand new trailer you might have seen that just went up.
Overall this was probably the classiest of the video game concerts I have been to, it wasn’t quite the spectacle that Video Games Live is, and it was treated with even more care and respect then Dear Friends. This was really something special, but even better is that while there are only three concerts this year, in 2012 the big tour will finally take off and everyone can get a chance to hear The Legend of Zelda as they have never heard it before.