[This post has been updated since it was first published]
Last year, I was able to see the Distant Worlds show during Otakon weekend at Baltimore with Nobuo Uematsu in attendance and everything. This year, I was treated to another beautiful gamer-related orchestra performance based on the music of the Legend of Zelda series, called Symphony of the Goddesses. Now all I need to do is hit up MAGFest to make my games and music nerd fantasy complete. (update on that: I will be attending MAGfest!)
Not only was the show based on completely different music, but the style and structure of the performance were different enough that a lot of folks walked out of the auditorium saying they liked it even better than Distant Worlds.
Walking into the auditorium, the stage is set in a simple manner: the seats are there for the orchestra members, two rows in the back for the singers, the platform for the Conductor (Eimear Noone) is in the middle, and a big screen hangs up over and behind them all. When the show begins, starting with a general Legend of Zelda series (including Skyward Sword) medley is played, and then the emcee comes out to introduce the show and tell you what you'll be hearing next, along with some tidbits about the production of the Symphony in which we learn that they are all fresh arrangements.
The orchestra I listened to were the Orlando Philharmonic, and the singers were the Florida Opera Theater Chorus. I seriously got the chills when they stood up during the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time movement to sing out the notes to the Song of Time. There were many instances throughout the show that the men and women of that opera chorus lent their voices to the music, and the effect was impressive.
Since the show is still touring and I think that being surprised is part of the experience, I'm not going to provide a set list this time around. I will say that you won't see too many single song performances. Instead, you'll hear whole movements/arrangements based on particular games or aspects of them. During the intermission, you'll also hear more single themes that didn't make it to the concert's bill.
The screen in the back I mentioned earlier is choreographed to the music. The music is timed to go with it, and there's a smaller screen in front of Eimear Noone so she could time the orchestra. The screen shows footage from the game, displays dialogue and of course, a live feed of the players while they perform your favorite themes. In some cases, you'll be watching cutscenes from the various games while the full ambient theme music is playing in the background; and that's just magical.
Unfortunately, I don't really have a bunch of images to share of the orchestra in action, mostly because before the show we got that PSA about not recording or photographing the show. And I respect the House when they tell us not to share pictures of their performances. However, I did get a photo of the stage, which is up there earlier in this article, and to the left we've got some cool costumes.
Quite a few attendees came dressed as Zeldas, Links or just wearing Kokiri hats. There were a few folks just wearing Zelda series-inspired tees and jewelry (in my case, I had these Triforce earrings on). After the show ended and folks were milling around in the lobby area, one person whipped out his ocarina and played his own little symphony for the crowd. Much to my surprise (and pleasure), he actually played well, and each note came out clear as a bell.
As a gamer, I love that I can go to a concert of all my favorite Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda series music. Seeing and supporting these shows is important, though it's easy when the source material is already great. I'll probably be seeing Symphony of the Goddesses a second time now that a show for Miami has been announced and tickets are going on sale, because I am that interested in supporting the movement. Who knows, depending on how successful this is, we may get a second tour with another set of new arrangements, or have a tour featuring the music from other Nintendo titles.
For any and all gamers who hold a special place in their nerdy little hearts for the Legend of Zelda series, especially if you loved the older titles (there was a heavy emphasis on these), up to and including Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask... and even fans of Twilight Princess - this is the show for you. Show your support for your local Philharmonic and opera chorus, and show your support for the music from the games you love to play (or remember playing).
Are you in Miami? I'll probably be there, and I'd love to do another post in December when they come around with more pictures together with you. I'll also gladly participate if there is a cosplay group being formed for the show, because that's just fun.
Tickets are meant to go on sale today (at the time of writing - July 18), but I haven't seen them anywhere yet. I'll be sure to update this post with more information when the time comes.
(update: here's where you can learn about the show in Miami on Dec. 9 and buy tickets!)
Side note: If you're a fan of Disney/Pixar, there's a show for that, too!
Unfortunately, it's only at Hollywood and San Francisco for now, but this makes me hopeful for a tour and I want to spread the word around.