Symphony, Chorus tune into ‘Legend of Zelda’

Jan. 30, 2015 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” performance includes projected scenes from the popular “Zelda” video game franchise. / Courtesy Jason Michael Paul Productions

BY STEVEN MARK / smark@staradvertiser.com

It’s game on when “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” takes the Blaisdell Concert Hall stage Friday.

The performance features the music of “The Legend of Zelda,” one of the most popular video game franchises in history, performed by the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra and the O‘ahu Choral Society, led by conductor Amy Andersson.

‘THE LEGEND OF ZELDA:
SYMPHONY OF THE GODDESSES’

Presented by the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra

» Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
» When: 8 p.m. Friday
» Cost: $39-$125
» Info: (866) 448-7849, http://ticketmaster.com

Since the original “Zelda” came out in 1986, Nintendo has produced 17 sequels, prequels and offshoots over the last 28 years, with distinctive melodies and tunes accompanying each.

Los Angeles-based Jason Michael Paul Productions, which has presented several events in Hawaii, contracted with the orchestra, chorus and conductor for the performance, weaving the music and images from the games into the concert.

This will be the first show of its kind in Hawaii.

“We have the soundtrack for ‘The Legend of Zelda’ performed live,” Jason Michael Paul said.

“It’s in a four-movement symphony, and then we also have a prelude and overture and intermezzo just like a typical symphony concert, with an 18-by-32-foot-wide screen suspended above the orchestra, so the graphics from the game are in sync with the music.”

The concerts are seen as the latest trend in orchestra performances, with music from films and now video games being performed live to images projected on a screen. Earlier this month the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra hosted a similar concert using music and scenes from Disney films.

“The Legend of Zelda” is a fantasy game, set in a mythical kingdom called Hyrule. The hero Link battles the villain Ganondorf, often having to rescue Princess Zelda or go on a hunt for the Triforce, a relic that has mystical powers.

“It’s a deep, touching story that has been told over almost 30 years now, and the music is just as beautiful as the graphics, so it all makes sense,” said Paul.

Paul, who has worked with performers ranging from the Three Tenors to Elton John, was in Costa Rica working with Luciano Pavarotti when he came up with the idea of staging video game music in a concert setting.

“I had this amazing sound system, and I had a soundtrack from the video game ‘Final Fantasy,’” he said. “A light went off in my head: What if I do this in a concert environment, like I’m doing with Pavarotti, only with video-game music?”

Paul produced a show based on “Final Fantasy” music and, in addition to the “Zelda” concerts started in 2011, has another concert of video game music using tunes and scenes from several games.
The concerts have been extremely popular: Two recent “Zelda” shows in Nashville, Tenn., were sellouts, with fans coming dressed as their favorite character from the game, a custom many local “Zelda” fans are expected to follow.

“Zelda” fans dressed in costume for a mainland show.  /   Courtesy Jason Michael Paul Productions

“Zelda” fans dressed in costume for a mainland show. /
Courtesy Jason Michael Paul Productions

The performances have been updated over the years to include material from new games. This show, Paul’s third based on “Zelda,” will feature scenes and music from the soon-to-be released “Majora’s Mask,” which is a remake of a 2000 “Zelda” game.

Also included are scenes from “A Link Between Worlds,” released in fall 2013, featuring the latest in game visuals.

“The graphics are beautiful,” Paul said. “They’re HD, they’re 3-D, they’re cutting-edge.”

The show also includes images from early years of the game in all their pixelated, herky-jerky glory, provoking an amused, nostalgic reaction.

“Animation for Zelda from the early 1990s seemed primitive, with the protagonist Link bouncing around like an overcaffeinated Mario in a Robin Hood costume,” wrote John Pitcher of nash­ville­scene.com, adding that “the most recent incarnations of the character, in contrast, seemed almost cinematically real.”

The music, while setting the tone for a scene the way a movie soundtrack would, also contains motifs or themes that identify characters. Licensing agreements allow for orchestrating the music from the game, originally composed by Koji Kondo, who also wrote tunes for “Super Mario Bros.”

“It’s a wonderful way to get your kids interested in symphonic music,” Paul said. “This is the perfect kind of bridge for that. … The kids can educate the parents, and the parents can educate the kids about the musical aspect.”

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