The press for the event read “A DREAM COME TRUE EXPERIENCE FOR VIDEO GAME FANS & MUSIC LOVERS: NINTENDO’S “THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: SYMPHONY OF THE GODDESSES” TOUR PLAYS THE GREEK THEATRE, LA”
And it pretty much lived up to it. Last night I was able to attend the concert at the Greek.
The music is based on one of the most popular and beloved video game series of all time,
The press for it continues, “The name “Symphony of the Goddesses” refers not only to the concert program but also to the new four-movement symphony recounting the classic storylines from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time™, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker™, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess™, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past™. The concert also will highlight orchestral renditions of music from other series games, including The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening™ and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask™. ”
Given the subject matter one would expect the audience to be filled with cosplayers and your stereo typical gamer nerds. I was actually surprised at how few cosplayers there were. As for the gamer nerds, you would be surprised at how well gamer nerds clean up when we want to. There were a lot of industry people present as well. Faces I recognize even if I can’t remember their names. Folks from Blizzard, Nintendo (would have been more surprised if they weren’t there), as well as various gaming press. Given that E3 is going on across town at the LACC, its to be expected.
But enough about that. Read on for a review of the performance itself.
The conductor, Eímear Noone, was spot on. The musicians were all top notch including two full size harps and a sizable choral contingent as well. They all worked together seamlessly to bring the arrangements by music director Chad Seiter to life.
Accompanying the music was video projected to three screens showcasing various scenes and sequences from the many games in the Legend of Zelda franchise. The music had been arranged to synch perfectly with the visuals in a way I have not often seen in other performances of video game music. Click tracks can be your friend.
They started out with an overture as a preview of the evenings attractions, as it were. Then the host for the evening was one other than Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin Williams and yes, she is named for the Princess in the games.). Williams was a bit nervous at first but eased up a bit as the performance went on.
The four part Symphony of the Goddesses was beautiful. They started with a tribute to the Goddess Farore for the first movement, the second movement was dedicated and focused on Wind Waker. Following the intermission they did the third and fourth movements. The third focused on the darkest of the Zelda games “Twilight Princess” and the symphony wrapped up with a celebration of the classic “Link to the Past”. Of the four pieces of the Symphony of the Goddesses I would have to say the third and fourth were my favorites.
Sitting in the Greek Theater amongst the trees and nature that surrounds The Greek it added quite nicely to the overall atmosphere of the performance. With only a couple comparatively minor issues.
Ok this is where my live performance production and video director hat pops on and starts being a bit nerdy and nit picky.
If I had to pick any negatives from this experience they wouldn’t be from the music itself, the musicians, the conductor or even the host’s nervousness. They were all spot on top notch. Even Miss Williams nervousness and brief fangirl moment (self confessed and stated,) added a cuteness and legitimacy that the host was a genuine fan of the material.
The tech crew however, is another matter. This is a touring company. LA is not the first stop. Nor is it the last. This being the case one has to wonder what the hell was up with their A1 (sound engineer). Between the serious feed back at various points, the apparently loose connections causing loud and distracting pops and crackles in the sound as well as the overall flat tone of the audio balance, I would hope someone on the production team takes the A1 to task on that. With rehearsals and 3hour sound checks, there is no excuse for not having the audio properly rung out and balanced. One or two minor instances of feedback can be overlooked but this was excessive.
Then there was the video direction. Whomever was calling their cameras for the first half of the show, they either weren’t familiar with the music or the performance. A lot of times they would cut from the game footage to cameras on the orchestra for, say, an oboe solo and the video would switch instead to the cellist section. This happened fairly consistently during the first half.
In the second half, I don’t know if they switched out TDs or what but the quality and accuracy of the camera work and video switching elevated substantially. They even threw in some artsy shots and sustained cross fades that enhanced key segments of music. The sustained cross fade on the harps and violinists comes immediately to mind.
That being said, these technical issues aside. The ticket price was totally worth it. The performances themselves were solid and engaging. The atmosphere was awesome. I went with good friends and ran into a few there as well. Overall I would give this concert an A to A -. The only thing keeping it from being a solid A+ were the aforementioned tech issues.
Next on the list of orchestral concerts I want to see, Final Fantasy. I hear they are coming around again in September.
(Note: Once they are finished being sorted I will be posting some pics from the show.)
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