The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses is in the middle of their 2015 US and European tour, bringing thousands of Zelda fans together to hear their favorite soundtrack performed live. The concert’s conductor Amy Andersson was kind enough to take a moment from non-stop performances to talk with Zelda Universe about touring, the future of video game music, and of course Zelda.
Amy Andersson has a deep respect for video game music. You can see just how much she loves being an integral part of the Zelda Symphony by following her on Twitter @amymaestra.
Had you played any of the Zelda games before you started conducting the Zelda Symphony, and if so, which ones?
I am not a gamer, but a video music game lover, so to answer your question, no, I have not played any of the Zelda games before conducting the Zelda Symphony. However my kids play video games, and Zelda was and is one of their favorites.
What is your favorite Zelda song?
I absolutely love Dragon Roost Island! There is a feeling of nostalgia, longing and melancholy that I hear. It just tugs at my heart.
What other video game soundtracks are you a fan of?
I am a fan of Bioshock, Final Fantasy and Elderscrolls. There is so much fantastic video game music out there!
With the Zelda Symphony, you’re touring different cities and working with various orchestras. What’s it like working with a new symphony orchestra for every performance?
It is both challenging and exciting to work with a new orchestra in each city; challenging because there is the element of the unknown as to how it is all going to work out, and exciting because of all the new faces and people I am honored to meet.
How much do you get to rehearse with the musicians?
The day of the show, we do a one hour rehearsal with the choir and three-hour rehearsal with choir and orchestra. This music is very complex and requires a great deal of concentration and skill. But even with just a three-hour rehearsal, we get it right every time. It is also a reflection of the quality of musicians that our producer hires. He gets the best people!
“This music is very complex and requires a great deal of concentration and skill. But even with just a three hour rehearsal, we get it right every time.”
What does an average show day consist of for you?
The average show day is about a 12 hour day in the theater. I get there somewhere around noon and check the stage layout, and all the details that go with that. Then I rehearse with the choir for one hour, immediately followed by a three hour dress rehearsal with both the orchestra and choir. Then we have usually a two hour break before the show. I have an hour to eat, and most of the time go out and grab a bite to eat locally. Then it is back to the theater to get dressed and mentally in the zone. Sometimes there are interviews or last minute things that come up. I aim to be show ready 15 minutes before the show begins. After a two hour show there is sometimes a meet and greet. I rest in my dressing room as the stage is torn down and usually wait for the rest of the crew, and then we go back to the hotel.
Orchestral video game concerts are increasing in popularity. I’ve even heard video game music referred to as modern-day classical. How do you foresee video game music impacting future classical-style symphony concerts?
I believe that one of the reasons video game music will play an increasing larger role at future symphony orchestra concerts is because it has the capacity to sell out a concert hall with a very young and dynamic crowd. It is exactly this demographic that orchestra concert halls across America are lacking, as traditional concert audiences are growing older and not replacing themselves. I think concert halls will be motivated by ticket sales first and foremost. But then I think concert venues will ultimately realize that video game music is legitimate contemporary music that deserves respect and needs to be performed. This will be a pivotal moment that builds the bridge into the future for orchestra concerts in America. If orchestras are to survive as a cultural institution, they will need to recognize the contribution of video game composers, like they recognize the musical contributions of film composers. It will happen, and is happening. It is just a matter of time.
“I think concert venues will ultimately realize that video game music is legitimate contemporary music that deserves respect and needs to be performed.”
If you could conduct any orchestra or perform at any venue, who/where would it be?
I would love to do Zelda in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as it is one of the great concert halls in the world. It has perfect acoustics and would not require amplification. I would add to that Carnegie Hall. But as we are selling out nearly every show, some of these halls, like Carnegie, simply do not have enough seats! As to a particular orchestra, yes, I used to dream of conducting the top, famous orchestras. But now I realize that each and every orchestra, regardless of level or capability, teaches me about people, music and life. They offer me the chance to learn, and to deepen the art of my conducting, whether they are great, local union freelancers, or a well-known orchestra. That is really what it is all about, and why I love conducting so much.
So I did my research and saw that you’re also a jazz singer, composer and arranger. What are some productions you’ve worked on?
Composing is something that I have done for a very long time, and jazz arranging is something that I have recently begun to explore. My teacher/mentor is the incredible jazz singer Carolyn Leonhart in NYC. I am deeply into the Great American Songbook, which contains hundreds of jazz standards and a vast richness of endless possibilities. Living in NYC affords me the possibility of rehearsing with great local jazz musicians and I look forward to making my debut with them in NYC in the very near future.
You’ve broken multiple female stereotypes (which is totally awesome). Not only are you a conductor, you’re a conductor for a video game concert, so you’re definitely a source of inspiration for girls. How did you get to where you are now?
Well, thank you! I got to where I am now through very hard work, determination and fearlessness. I wake up each day with the mantra ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ We all have the power to create our own realities, or at least to change our reality. The power of our own thoughts and minds should never be underestimated!
“We all have the power to create our own realities, or at least to change our reality. The power of our own thoughts and minds should never be underestimated!”
Any advice for those who might want to become a professional maestro/maestra?
My advice would be something like this; Be prepared to work long and hard, but most importantly love what you do truly from the heart. If you are driven by ego, but don’t succeed in the way that you wanted to, you will feel like a failure and be disappointed. If you are driven by your love and passion for music, no matter where you end up, you will be happy and feel successful because you are doing what you love. Also, find your tribe and surround yourself with like-minded people, people who believe in you and who support you. Stay away from those who sow the seeds of doubt.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. Anything else you’d like to add?
Well, thank you for this interview! I appreciate you taking the time to ask me such thoughtful questions. I would like to just say again, that I love our Zelda fans and I am inspired by their outpouring of passion for the music they love. They make it worth all the long and lonely hours of travel away from friends and family. And I want to thank our Executive Producer Jason Michael Paul for inviting me on this journey. I am very honored to be a part of this.