I was lucky enough to attend The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at the NJPAC in Newark, NJ on Aug. 10 along with Pixelitis’ dynamic fraternal duo—Patrick and Damian Kulikowski.
After getting to talk gaming music with Symphony producer Chad Seiter, we got to check out the stage just as the house was opening up.
Looking out into that sea of Zelda fans, you could see hundreds of devoted fans (as well as the NPAC’s snazzy crystal orb light fixture). Some attendees came with brilliant cosplays; others dressed formally in ways that recalled the series’ motifs: like a green suit and tie or a green evening gown. Whatever you wore that night, you could definitely feel the love from fans of music and gaming alike.
The orchestra played below a massive video monitor which depicted select cutscenes and visuals from various games in the Zelda series.
Symphony of the Goddesses is comprised of four game-specific movements, one for Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and A Link to the Past. Prior to those movements, an overture featuring the series’ theme kicks off the show, followed by a medley of dungeon themes, as well as select “Ocarina” tunes from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
By far, the most emotional moments for me came from The Wind Waker movement, and it just goes to show how this game’s art style and focus on character expressions worked in tugging at the player’s heartstrings. There is a contemplative and moving rise in the orchestra as the pirate ship onscreen sails away from Link’s home island. The camera pans around the island as its inhabitants wave our hero goodbye. The camera lingers on Link’s grandmother; we don’t see her expression, she’s filmed from the back, but we don’t have to. It’s something that was moving in the game, but in the symphony it nearly drove me to tears.
The thrice-over encore included a heartfelt arrangement of “Ballad of the Wind Fish” from Link’s Awakening, a zesty version of “Gerudo Valley,” and a whole medley dedicated to Majora’s Mask, which felt more like a “bonus” movement. As a longtime Majora’s Mask fan, I was pleased.
I was impressed by how well the music coordinated with the onscreen action. A symphony, after all, is supposed to tell a story through music. The visual accompaniment certainly helped to get the point across.
The unifying theme around Symphony of the Goddesses is the eternal struggle between Zelda, Link, and Ganondorf, who each hold the power of Hyrule’s three creator goddesses. A symphony, with its reoccurring motifs, is a natural format for a series that tells a similar story a new way each time.
By way of the music and the visuals, we see and hear the recurring story of Link meeting Zelda and then teaming up to fight against Ganondorf. In orchestral form, the “legend” aspect of The Legend of Zelda feels more spot on than ever. Symphony not only elevates the game’s astounding soundtracks but its own mythology.
(Special thanks to Damian Kulikowski for his photography of the event. You can check out more photos of the show at his website.)
- Zelda Overture
- Dungeon Medley
- Kakariko Village
- Songs of the Hero (Morning Song, Song of Time, Serenade of Water, Song of Healing, Song of Storms) (Ocarina of Time)
- Creation of Hyrule
- Movement 1 – Ocarina of Time
- Movement 2 – The Wind Waker
- Fairy Fountain
- Movement 3 – Twilight Princess
- Movement 4 – A Link to the Past
- The Ballad of the Wind Fish (Link’s Awakening)
- Gerudo Valley (Ocarina of Time)
- Majora’s Mask Suite