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.