My wife and I rarely take in the symphony, but when we do it’s usually for a great show. Recently, we were lucky enough to attend Zelda Symphony of the Goddess at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, thanks to our friends at Utah Valley Online. I’ve played a few Legend of Zelda games in my time, but Zelda Symphony of the Goddess showed me there are many games that I have yet to play.
The show started off with a bang, and held your hand through 30 years of nostalgia. The orchestra was on point and the Zelda Symphony choir was fantastic. Conductor/Music Director Amy Andersson and Producer Jason Michael Paul put together one unforgettable show. The crowd was into every medley, cheering for their favorite songs and for some of the clips from their favorite games. Quite a few fans showed up in cosplay and they were put up on the big screen before the show and during intermission.
I asked a friend of mine, who took his kids, what he thought of the show.
NaHD: As a parent who enjoys video games, how did it feel bringing your kids to Zelda Symphony of the Goddess?
Mike: I grew up playing Zelda on the NES. My kids grew up playing Zelda games. Sharing this experience and listening to the music performed live with my kids was pretty emotional. They’ll remember this for a long time.
Mike’s kids even had some amazing things to say about the show.
Serenity (13): I’m not a huge fan of Legend of Zelda, but I do play cello and other instruments. After tonight, I definitely want to start playing the game. I loved it.
Kolo (14): It was unbelievable. It was life-changing. I would definitely go see this again.
After the show, I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Zelda Symphony of the Goddess Producer Jason Michael Paul.
NaHD: What made you want to put together Zelda Symphony of the Goddess?
JMP: Well, I’ve been doing Zelda since about 2006 as part of another concert series that also featured Super Mario and Metroid. The premiere concert I’m talking about, Play! A Video Game Symphony, actually had Koji Kondo come down from Japan and he acutally performed. So, I’ve been working with Nintendo through that concert series and then when the 25th Anniversary rolled around, they contacted me to create a show and the rest is as they say history.
NaHD: What were you interested in more first? Classical Music or Video Game Soundtracks?
JMP: I created a concept with Final Fantasy in 2004, and prior to that I had been working in the video game industry, Square and also Playstation, and at the same time I was also having my hands in working with Luciano Pavarotti, so I kind of had both things going on in a very pivotal moment of my life and so I was successfully able to pitch the concept to Square Enix to do the concerts and they loved the idea and, of course, that is the launching pad for where we are today.
NaHD: My son is really drawn to the soundtracks of video games and movies, do you have any thoughts about kids being exposed to soundtracks at such an early age?
JMP: This concert is hopefully a gateway to other symphonic performances or other Utah Symphony concerts. When I first came up with the concept, it was really about trying to create a project that would really help get people back in the symphony halls. We’ve had a lot of success in not only bringing in a younger audience, but also getting them to appreciate classical music. I think a lot of young kids are inspired to play instruments and Zelda being that inspiration is great. This concert is designed so you don’t have to be a Zelda fan, you can close your eyes and just sit back and the music stands on it’s own.
NaHD: Is there a game, besides Zelda, that you just love listening to the music?
JMP: There’s all kinds. Skyrim, Kingdom Hearts, Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Journey, Bio Shock, the list really goes on and on. Metroid has great music, Pikmin has good music. I’m a big fan gaming music in particular, but I am also more into the music that I can shape into a concert. That’s what I’m always thinking about. How can I present it as part of a concert.
NaHD: Are there any other games that you want to bring into a concert?
JMP: I’ve pretty much done them all, but in terms of scale in whether or not they’re like, for example, a Zelda only concert or a Final Fantasy only concert, that’s kind of where we are at right now. I don’t know of any other franchises that can be as prolific or garner as much interest, so in that sense I’m a little hesitant. I am working on it. I have some great ideas. I really think it depends on the cooperation with the game development team and the publishers. That’s really what’s going to ultimately drive the success of the concerts. Especially when you don’t have a brand like Zelda.
NaHD: What has been the crowd reaction to Zelda Symphony of the Goddess?
JMP: I’m blessed. Pretty much every city we go to we have not lukewarm responses. People are very boisterous, very devoted to Zelda and Nintendo for that matter, you know they are just extremely passionate. It’s a very captive audience. It’s great. It’s exciting.
NaHD: What advice would you have for young symphony musicians?
JMP: Practice. A lot of great orchestras hold auditions you know, but you gotta obviously study and be in that loop. At that level if you are great at what you do, it’s almost impossible to not be noticed. There’s a lot of great orchestras out there with musicians who are getting older and their seats need to be filled. Make sure to study a lot of the classics, but also mix it up with new rep, stuff that’s more contemporary.
NaHD: Last Question. Do you ever just turn on a game and just sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the music?
JMP: I have, but it’s kind of difficult unless the game play is pretty fluid. But, yeah absolutely I have done that.
I don’t think I can recommend Zelda Symphony of the Goddess enough. If you are reading this, you should hop on their website, check the remaining dates of the tour, and if there is a show happening near you, buy yourself some tickets. You will not regret it. A big thank you to Utah Valley Online for sending my wife and I to such an amazing show, and a big thank you to Jason Michael Paul, Amy Andersson, and the fantastic musicians for such a magical night. Check out our Instagram page to see some pictures from the Salt Lake City performance.
*This is a sponsored post. Utah Valley Online provided us tickets to Zelda Symphony of the Goddess.*