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Mace & Crown | April 25, 2018

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Legend of Zelda: The Symphony of the Goddesses is a divine experience

Legend of Zelda: The Symphony of the Goddesses is a divine experience

Richard Gabrintina | Assitant A&E Editor

For over 30 years, the hearts and imagination of gamers all over the world have been captivated by the Legend of Zelda. Filled with rich lore, the allure of adventure and its gripping battle between good and evil, the music of Nintendo’s beloved franchise was performed at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk on Nov. 11.

From the youth to the young at heart, concertgoers eagerly awaited for the doors to open. Some even dressed up as characters from the series. While waiting, attendees were able to purchase merchandise, which included an exclusive tour t-shirt, an official program, a music book, a tote bag and a “Wind Waker” baton.

Upon entering the theatre, a large projection screen hung over the orchestra. The visual accompaniment, composed of carefully curated video game footage and live footage of the performers, heightened the experience. Spectators could explore the vivid landscapes and embark on a journey with Link, the protagonist of the series, in all of his different incarnations.

The symphony opened up with an overture encompassing music throughout the franchise’s history, capturing the magic of the epic tale told in its broad emotional spectrum. The screen projected footage from the first installment, released in 1986, to the latest installment, “Breath of the Wild,” released this year.

“I enjoyed seeing it. It’s just I guess it did seem kind of weird seeing the 8-bit graphics, at times, with like a fancy orchestra,” said Laurence Egalla, a concertgoer. “But I definitely enjoyed it, especially seeing the ‘Breath of the Wild’ graphics because it was just so nice.”

Jason Michael Paul, the show’s producer, then greeted the audience and introduced them to the conductor, Kelly Corcoran, the 66-piece orchestra and the 24-person choir. Paul also took the time to honor and thank military veterans for their service.

After Paul left the stage, a recorded message from Shigeru Miyamoto, a creator of the franchise’s creator, appeared on the screen. Miyamoto talked about overcoming early limitations in producing music.

The orchestra then performed a set of interludes from Dragon Roost Island, “Majora’s Mask,” “Breath of the Wild” and “A Link Between Worlds.”

Photo by Richard Gabrintina

A recorded message from Eiji Aonuma, a producer for the franchise, followed the interludes. Aonuma described what it was like to develop and conceptualize a Legend of Zelda game.

After, blue beams of light rained over fog on the screen, a cutscene familiar to those that have played “Ocarina of Time.” Lines of text appeared next, narrating the creation of Hyrule. The visual accompaniment only enhanced the mystical soundscape concocted by the orchestra.

The first two movements, comprised of music from “Skyward Sword” and “Ocarina of Time,” proceeded the prelude. On screen, attendees were reunited with cherished characters, as well as specific cutscenes and boss battles from both games. The orchestra highlighted the danger and suspense of battling the evil Ganondorf while flames danced behind the game footage.

The orchestra bowed before the show took an intermission. They bowed again once the show resumed with the Temple of Time intermezzo.

Photo by Richard Gabrintina

Koji Kondo, the franchise’s music composer, spoke on screen about the philosophy behind his process. “I believe that the roles of game music are to bring out empathy, stimulate the emotional ups and downs of the game and to leave strong memories and vivid impressions of the work with us,” said Kondo.

The third movement compiled scores from “The Wind Waker,” beginning with the music to Outset Island. This time, concertgoers sailed along the shimmering seas with Link and The King of Red Lions.

Scores from “The Twilight Princess,” the franchise’s visually darker entry, comprised the fourth movement, and the attendees embarked on a quest with Wolf Link and Midna to defeat Zant.

The fifth movement opened up with footage from “A Link to the Past,” immediately inciting cheers from the crowd. The movement concluded with Link’s acquisition of the Triforce as the woodwinds, strings and choir slowly soared with victory.

Before the finale, the orchestra stood and bowed, resulting in a standing ovation from the audience. Aonuma and Miyamoto reappeared on screen one more time.

Footage from “Link’s Awakening” projected on the screen as the orchestra performed music from the game in the first half of the finale. The other half began with the music of Goron City from “Breath of the Wild” and other scores from that entry.

The two-hour performance proved to be powerful and yielded another standing ovation from the crowd. For many, it evoked strong emotions and feeling of nostalgia, completely immersing concertgoers into a holistic experience.

“I had the thought, at some points, where I’m like I absolutely remember being in the middle of this like scene playing the game,” Jessica Scott, a concertgoer who cosplayed as Zelda, said.

Photo by Richard Gabrintina

The symphony took the magical melodies from the memorable franchise and left attendees with an unforgettable evening.