On Tuesday the 25th of October I was lucky enough to attend the 25th Legend of Zelda Anniversary Symphony at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo theatre. Sat at the back I could see rows and rows of Zelda fans, cosplayers and music lovers. What excited me about this event, not being a Zelda fan, was being able to enjoy a fully fledged orchestra perform songs from a media which is rapidly becoming both the biggest entertainment medium and a great art culture. Music is primal, it has existed since man first learnt to string grunts together and the opening piece of music from this symphony almost moved me to tears. I could only imagine the power it had over the droves of people in the audience who grew up playing every single one of these Zelda games along the way.
Human beings attach themselves emotionally to a variety of items. Some of you might have kept hold of an old keepsake from a former lover which serves to provide you with a reminder of the times you shared together. But consider music. Music can provide a powerful emotional attachment to a variety of items in your history, be it another person or a time in your life. The list is practically endless as we continue with our lives. Speaking to a few of the fellow attendees during the break and after the event I was able to gather that the majority of fans had flashbacks to them sitting in front of their TVs playing these games and that the music - such as Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time - provided the soundtrack to the time they spent countless hours travelling around that game world. They were also able to tell me where they were when they played the specific parts the pieces of music appeared in.
The concert was spearheaded by Eigi Aomuma, Zelda’s producer and was hosted by Zelda Williams, Robin Williams daughter, who was named after the heroine in these titles. Each of the 14 songs performed were a joy to behold, even from a outsiders standpoint. As previously mentioned, the opening performance of the “Hyrule Castle Theme” almost brought me to tears with its raw power and then afterwards we were introduced to the conductor, Eimear Noone and Miss Williams, before continuing with the setlist until the Ocarina Melody Suite where the audience was guided and introduced to every type of instrument used during the performance. This is one of the aspects that I enjoyed over the Video Games Live events, where instead of focusing on the orchestra, the audience could be easily distracted with a big screen of videos from the various games the music came from. In this instance the videos containing the use of the piece of music, were scaled down and accompanied by shots of sections of the orchestra as the music was being played.
Sadly there was one slight mishap after the intermission where one of the speaker stacks was seemingly malfunctioning and tripling the bass output for one half of the room, which sadly ruined part of the “Ganondorf’s Theme” performance. But the error had vanished by the song’s end and everything returned to being perfectly synced.
The attendance for these types of events like Video Games Live, this anniversary symphony and the upcoming Distant Worlds concert have proved that games and their soundtracks have brought, what I believe to be very young audiences to really appreciate classical music in its live orchestral form, listening to instruments used in symphonies by such musical giants Beethoven and Straus and give standing ovations to their performers after every single performance. It chokes me up to see gamers, who are still plagued by mainstream media to be these teenage layabouts prone to violent outbursts enjoy classical music from the games they love.
After the surprise performance from Koji Kondo with a beautiful piano medley, Eigi Aomuma returned to the stage to tell us what a wonderful audience we were and to surprise us with a live rendition of the theme to upcoming release Skyward Sword and confirmed that the release will also come with a CD of the Symphony. Although I don’t know if that’s a CD of a live recording of one of the three concerts or just the pieces of music recorded by an orchestra in a studio. Regardless it’s a wonderful addition to celebrate the release of a Zelda game in its 25th year.