Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

Thursday 23rd May, Hammersmith Apollo was the venue, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses was the reason everybody turned up, and what a show they gave! Symphony of the Goddesses is a tribute to the stunning work of Koji Kondo, who is behind the genius that is the music that accompanies the Zelda series of video games. It was directed by Irish composer Eímaar Noone, and performed by the one and only Royal Philarmonic Orchestra.

The way the concert was presented was beyond my wildest dreams. Instead of just having the orchestra playing the music, a large cinema style screen was set up behind them, so while you were listening to the music, you could watch scenes from Zelda that matched perfectly with the music, which I thought was an absolutely brilliant touch. With the videos playing in line with the music, it makes the experience so much more immersive, and makes you feel like you are once again playing the game, from the chilled, laid back feel of Kakariko Village, to epic boss battles against Ganondorf that have a slightly darker and more dramatic undertone.

The show opens up with a scene from Skyward Sword, where you are diving off a cliff and falling through the sky, which then changes into the first 2D games, The Legend of Zelda, and The Adventure of Link, which both featured on the NES console, to the Legend of Zelda main theme.

The symphony contained four movements after the prelude, which featured the goddesses Nayru, Din and Farore bearing down on the planet from the heavens. The first movement highlighted Ocarina of Time, which even a casual Zelda fan will know some of the music from, as it is the most famous game. Multiple chants for Saria's Song from this game were echoed out from the crowd behind us. Ocarina of Time's music ebbs and flows a lot, it has tones that can be really jovial one second, before switching to the drums and horns, which indicates some of the darker moments in the game.

The second movement featured music from The Wind Waker, which came out on the GameCube, and was a little controversial, due to the cel shading animation of the game, which not many people liked, especially after games such as Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. The music from Wind Waker is generally upbeat. It starts off with some gentle harp and flute playing, before a violin chimes in, and then it moves onto the music you hear in places such as Outset Island and Windfall Island, happy tones, that indicate your carefree life before the untimely kidnapping of your sister by a giant bird. It also features music from the Great Sea, which made me feel like I was there in the boat, and the Forbidden Fortress, a dark, dangerous place where Ganondorf lives. The overall highlight for me from this section of the evening though was the fact that Noone pulled out another conductor, which was, yes, you've guessed it, The Wind Waker, which was a spectacular touch.

After an intermission, the third movement featured music from Twilight Princess. It starts off very slow and gentle, but soon erupts into a dark and twisted tale of the battle between the light world and the dark world, which Ganondorf ultimately wants to turn the light world into, with Hyrule Castle being his domain for evil, which is his end goal in every game, but this featured after Wind Waker, and in my opinion is easily one of the darker games in the series. This movement featured the choir a lot more than the others did, to great effect.

The fourth and final movement was A Link To The Past, which surprised a lot of people, including myself. A brilliant game, with brilliant music to boot, and the video packages they put together for this were fantastic, although there were spoilers for those who hadn't finished the game, showing the final battle, and the final cutscene too.

After the fourth movement ended, while some foolish members of the crowd started to head out, 99% stayed behind to give a standing ovation, which brought Noone back out to give an encore, which turned out to be the Ballad of the Windfish, from one of the lesser known Zelda games: Link's Awakening, which came out on the Game Boy. After yet another beautiful performance, which unfortunately didn't have a video package to go with it, a second standing ovation occurred, which brought Noone out a second time, this time conducting Gerudo Valley, one of the more dramatic segments from Ocarina of Time, but one nonetheless that has become a classic piece of gaming musical history. Gerudo Valley did have a video package that, as always, went perfectly with the music, with Link showing the women of the Gerudo Valley that Ganondorf was not the only one with almighty power, earning their respect by the end of his journey, and being allowed through their desert to further his quest. After this, the crowd hoped that they could get one last song out of the orchestra, and lone behold, they could! This time featuring music from Majora's Mask, which many believe to be the scariest, and darkest game of the Zelda series (The Moon is truly terrifying to a lot of people).

This was to be the final song of the night, to which the crowd gave a roar of applause, whistles and screaming. After a truly memorable night, most of the crowd headed down to leave, only to see a large group of people who had cosplayed for the event. Cosplaying is where people wear costumes to represent a character from a work of fiction, obviously most people here dressed up as Zelda characters, although I did see one guy in a Mario hat, and another dressed as Ash Ketchum from the Pokémon series. Some of the cosplay featured at Symphony of the Goddesses was Tingle, Tetra, Link, Sheikah, Zant, Midna, and even a poe!

Obviously this event was huge for the Zelda community in the UK, which, to say the least, is a passionate fan base, as it is all around the world. Symphony of the Goddesses is by far and away one of the best events I have been to all year, and while relatively inexpensive (tickets ranged from £30-£60), the experience was out of this world. One slight drawback is that no future events are planned in the UK for the foreseeable future, with only three more shows in 2013 alone, two in America and one in Australia. If this magical show does grace us with it's presence once again, I would definitely recommend going.

Overall rating - 10/10

By Dan Lloyd (@DRL1990)

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