Zelda's 25th anniversary concert series

Last night, I had the honor of attending the world premier of the complete four-movement Symphony of the Goddesses in Dallas, Texas. Late last year, many Legend of Zelda fans, including some members of the Zelda Universe team, were given a taste of the symphony at special 25th anniversary concert events. When Skyward Sword was released, we were given another taste of the music we would hear in 2012 on special edition music CD, but neither the concert events nor the CD presented the entire symphony.

Half way through the symphony, during the intermission, I began to feel some slight disappointment. Not because the music wasn’t great, but because I felt like the concert was going to be over too soon and would not present the music I most wanted to hear. By the end of the third movement, I was still worried that too much was being overlooked.

But, then they started the fourth movement and I was hit with a great revelation only made possible by Hyrule Historia. The four-movement symphony is the perfect definition of the Legend of Zelda series. The extra music played between and after the four movements is just icing on the cake.

The Music Played in Dallas

Before I begin, I’d like to make it very clear that I do not believe this is a complete list of songs for the entire Symphony of the Goddesses tour. After the symphony was over, we were treated with two extra songs. Once the entire event was over, there were a few tracks from the special edition CD that were never played. I think it’s very likely that the “extra tracks” will vary between concerts.

The Meyerson Symphony Center

With that out of the way, this is a quick list of all of the music that was played in Dallas. Each movement includes several songs from a single Legend of Zelda game. I do not remember all of the different songs in each movement, so they will not be listed here. Each movement is roughly ten minutes long and the entire event was approximately two hours (including a brief intermission after the second movement):

  • “Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley” (this was played at E3 2011; not the same as the medley on the CD)
  • “The Creation of Hyrule” (as seen in Ocarina of Time)
  • Movement 1: Ocarina of Time
  • Movement 2: The Wind Waker
  • “Fairy Fountain”
  • Movement 3: Twilight Princess
  • Movement 4: A Link to the Past
  • “Gerudo Valley”
  • “The Ballad of the Wind Fish” (from Link’s Awakening)

The Movements and Why They Matter

All of the music from last night was fantastic, but once the symphony was over I quickly realized just how well the four movements defined the Legend of Zelda series. The four movements feature what are arguably four of the best games in the Legend of Zelda series: Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and A Link to the Past.

The video clips playing during the music highlight a very important similarity that all of the games share. Specifically, the defeat of Ganondorf or Ganon. At the end of Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf is sealed away by the Seven Sages. At the end of The Wind Waker, Ganondorf dies. At the end of Twilight Princess, Ganondorf dies. At the end of A Link to the Past, Ganon dies.

Had the concert taken place a few weeks earlier, I might have acknowledged this fact and then said “they were just showing the classic fights against Ganondorf that many of the people in the audience remember well.”

With Hyrule Historia in hand, the movements take on a whole new meaning. The four movements define the Legend of Zelda because together the movements musically present the controversial timeline split.

The first movement takes the listener through Ocarina of Time; the game where the timeline split occurs. The three movements that follow present the aftermath of each split in the story.

I like to think this was all more than mere coincidence. The symphony is fantastic even without the added meaning, but with the Legend of Zelda timeline finally revealed, the symphony tells the story to you like no Legend of Zelda video game ever has.

The “Extra” Music

Let’s get this out of the way: Last night I heard the best version of “The Ballad of the Wind Fish” that I have ever heard in my life. The handheld Legend of Zelda games were mostly overlooked at the event, but I was glad it ended on such a high note!

The entrance to the concert hall.

I went to the concert fully expecting to hear “Gerudo Valley” and “Fairy Fountain,” so there were no surprises there.

The medley at the beginning of the concert was a big surprise. It was the same medley that was played at E3 2011, and the same medley that I absolutely love and have listened to online countless times since E3 2011.

Listening to the medley online is great. Hearing it in person is better.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the “Creation of Hyrule” piece. It was accompanied by video clips from Ocarina of Time 3D as well as some new visuals made for the concert. It felt like a proper “prelude” to the symphony.

What Was Missing?

I had a great time and I feel that the main symphony is near perfect, but I also think there were some major pieces left out.

  • I was surprised that “Kakariko Village” was not played (despite the conductor mentioning it in her introduction). I was also surprised that they did not play “Ballad of the Goddess” aside from the small piece included in the intro medley
  • There was no music from Majora’s Mask.
  • “The Ballad of the Wind Fish” was the only time the concert acknowledged that handheld Legend of Zelda titles even exist. There are a lot of great handheld songs that I really wish were featured.
  • While parts of The Legend of Zelda theme song were included in other pieces, the actual theme song (as heard on the limited edition CD) was not played. I found this especially odd.

A Highly Recommended Event

Tour dates for 2012 were recently announced, and if you can make it to any of the events I highly recommend it. There’s nothing quite like hearing the music in person.

I’d also like to mention that the credits at the end of the event mentioned “other tour dates in 2012” in a way that seems to imply that there may be tour dates in 2013 (or later?).

It would be great to see the Symphony of the Goddesses become a regularly scheduled tour like the Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds tour.

  • GuildedBlood

    GAAAAHHHH if only it would come to the east coast!

  • Disciple of Midna

    It probably will, the coasts get everything! Meanwhile those of us in the middle are almost always skipped. They have to fly over our states anyway, why don't they just make a stop or two while they're at it? >.>;

    • Joshua Lindquist

      I agree that it probably will make it to the east coast eventually, but right now they've been forgotten. Florida is the only place on the east coast with a scheduled performance. The west coast and central states have the rest – so far.

  • Christian

    Wait, a ZU member was there. And they even took a picture where I was just off to the corner… Meaning I could have talked to them. Where's my time machine?

    • Shaelyn

      oh, hi.

      there were so many people there that I know but don't know… y'know?

  • Jason

    Man I wish I could run in there and steal that Triforce banner away from The Meyerson Symphony Center 😛

    • Shaelyn

      oh, that was a discussion among several groups of people while I was there 😉 everyone wanted that hanging on their own wall.

  • propfreak

    I WENT! It was AMAZING! I brought my hylian shield http://propfreaks.com/2012/01/11/how-prop-freaks-

    • Joshua Lindquist

      Congratulations for being noticed by me. I was going to take pictures of some of the cosplayers (which probably would have included you), but my cameras were not working so well. I didn't get many good pictures of anything.

      • propfreak

        Ahh that stinks, well we still got an amazing concert 🙂

    • Shaelyn

      that Oracles Link was so awesome <3

    • I saw you there. Isn't that shield made by that one dude who specializes with fiberglass? I want one so badly. I would've taken my Zelda sword, which is blunt as hell, but people might've gotten the wrong idea if they saw me with it while walking down the street.

      • propfreak

        Yup 🙂 We're working on a video segment with him where you'll see his process!
        Yeah I have the master sword made by that guy as well but didn't want security stopping me from hearing the gloriousness of the symphony haha

  • TheMaverickk

    I was disappointing that Majora's Mask wasn't represented on the 25th anniversary CD personally.

    It would be nice if it had been. The Ballad of the Windfish must have been beautiful in orchestra.

  • Why did the tickets have to sell out around my area? I could finally have met a ZU staff member in person.

  • Shaelyn

    I was there. I still feel like it was too short! when they played Ballad of the Windfish, I was expecting to hear Ballad of the Goddess – I was surprised. I was also disappointed that the first two games didn't get any love – particularly some of the music from AoL. what they performed though, OMG. I can't say I didn't cry.
    The one song I was going to be outright upset if I didn't hear was the Hyrule Castle theme from A Link to the Past. they delivered. what choked me up though was the Sanctuary theme, WOW.
    and well…there were a few more times my eyes started to well up. Ballad of the Windfish was amazing. I've heard Fairy Fountain before, but live is a whole 'nother experience. GAH…so beautiful.

    the last thing though, I really wish they didn't spoil the boss battles and the endings of the games. I haven't hardly played through Twilight Princess… ~wince~

    -but I still don't regret shelling out $70 for my ticket 🙂 well worth it. overall, an awesome experience I won't soon forget.

  • MDH

    Ballad of the Wind Fish? Holy crap. That's the one song I feel had been sorely missing in these concerts so far. Hopefully someone discreetly recorded the music again like the people from Bit Beacon did…

    As for the Gameboy games being mostly ignored, I agree that's sad, but my best guess is that the chiptune melodies are much harder to arrange for an orchestra than the console games' soundtracks.

    • HylianSavior

      I have been scouring the internet every day since the concert hoping somebody recorded at LEAST the final song.

  • Super zelda brother

    I went as well and found it pretty sad. The percussionists couldn't keep time, trumpets blasted, clarinets squeaked, and a vocalist coughed… into the microphone! What salvaged the night for me was meeting david ramos from Docjazz4 on youtube. Also the cosplay was fun to see.

    • Faleel

      Wait for the CD (if there is one of course) it will be much better.

    • Shaelyn

      I heard the clarinets squeaking too…and there were times I was wondering if I actually heard a metronome over the music. that…was a little annoying. I still found it better than the CD in a lot of ways, though.

      yeah, David, Cris Gale and Cam Wilkinson were all there. that was awesome.

      • Super zelda brother

        the metronome was probably the conductors click track before each song, i heard it too.

  • Nen desharu

    East coast Zelda fans can go to these concerts (listed from north to south): Montreal, Toronto (goes on sale March 31st), Atlanta, Orlando.

  • Gwydion

    Ballad of the Windfish! <3 I was so sad that no Link's Awakening music made it in the LA concert, so this makes me extremely happy! Of course, I'd be even happier if the symphony came to my area so I could actually hear it, but hopefully a CD will be released so I can at least hear it that way. I've always wanted to hear an orchestrated version of this song!

  • Shaelyn

    did anyone get more pictures of the cosplayers?

  • Andrew

    I was in the performance of this work and I have to say that to all of you that missed Majora's Mask, it was indeed arranged and orchestrated in time for the concert and was intended as an encore. However, the piece was cut from the program all together because of rehearsal constraints.

    It's great to hear so many people that were there and enjoyed it as it was really some fun stuff to perform.

  • LRL

    They need to come back to LA! I missed the first one :[

  • the_voice

    Thus brutally murdering my dream of hearing a full, classical arrangement of Mount Tamaranch (better known as Tal Tal Heights) performed live. Damn.

    Everything else sounds amazing, though. Really looking forward to the ALttP movement.

  • J.M.J.

    I knew that I would have the best of times when I went to the Symphony of the Goddesses in Dallas. I had bought my tickets early, on day one, and had nearly flawless seats. I expected to be moved and wowed all night but I went to the concert hoping for only one thing: The Ballad of the Windfish. After showing a montage of gameplay and symphonic samplings in the opening portion, I noticed a complete lack of anything relating to the handheld games and logically assumed that I wouldn't be hearing the song that I wanted most. Resigned to this fate, I enjoyed the concert more than anything I've ever been to in my life.

  • J.M.J.

    And then it happened, during the second encore, when everyone was expecting the Ballad of the Goddess, the conductor said that the last song was a surprise and that we would have to guess. It started slow and gentle, but I was still waiting for a familiar strumming of harps from the Skyward Sword theme. Then it hit me. Those three notes in ascending order. Those three, melancholy notes. Those three notes that heralded both the victorious end of a journey and the tragedy of a loss too strange to describe. I went through so many emotions so quickly; wonder, elation, sadness and finally awe.

  • J.M.J.

    Up to this point I had wiped my eyes a couple of times. The combination of sweeping scores and scenes of heroism, both already so familiar to my soul, was certainly moving on more than one occasion. But as my wife pretended not to notice and the stranger to my left, thankfully, kept his gaze forward, I spent the last three minutes of that concert in tears. I felt like I had personally been given a gift and I was touched beyond belief. I don’t know if they’ll play all of the same songs at every event, but if you live within 500 miles of any of these concerts, you should find a way to go. You may never get another chance and I promise that it will be worth your time.

  • HylianSavior

    Holy CRAP that performance was outstanding. And yes, Eimear Noone DID mention Kakariko Village, and it didn’t get played, but it was no big upset.

    Personally, I wish that rendition of Ballad of the Wind Fish were
    present on the Skyward Sword limited edition CD. I would love to hear that again…. As it is, several people around me didn’t recognize it! I’m 25 myself, and was in the back row center of the Orchestra Terrace. All those around me were adults who closely match or exceed my age, and they were all bewildered. I had to tell a few whilst walking out the door what the song was and what it was from.

    -sigh- This generation.

  • FierceDeityMomo

    I’m going to SF on 3/28 and was wondering if somebody could tell me what kind of merchandise they’re selling so I can plan accordingly. So excited!!!

  • Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses in San Francisco – "Majora's Mask"

    Here you have Majoras Mask Symphonic Movement

  • me see this information very interesting

  • Green

    The idea that the "alternate timelines" theory would be represented anywhere official is laughable, but this does seem like a strong line-up, and I'm quite looking forward to seeing it for myself tomorrow. 🙂