Five years ago, Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda; One of the company’s hallmark franchises and a fan favorite. Along with that celebration came the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on the Wii and if you were fortunate enough to snag an early copy, you would have been able to get a special musical production celebrating 25 years of the game’s music. The same production company that put together the celebration album, Jason Michael Paul Productions, also started a musical concert tour, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. Four years ago, I was privileged to see the tour as it came to Miami for the first time. I was profoundly amazed by the powerful performance. Fast forward four years and here I was again, back at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall, about to take in the show again. But four years have passed, was I to expect the same thing? Had the show improved? Or had it become stale and stagnant?
One thing is for sure: The show has changed as it is now on the Master Quest leg of its tour. This is a newer version of the show, now celebrating 30 years of Zelda. With a 56-piece orchestra and a 20 person choir, the show was at the very least geared up to be something big. Since the last time the show came around, several Zelda games have been released including brand new titles and remasters of classics for newer gaming systems. These would be among the games that were focused on during the performance.
Before the show started, the large screen over the stage prepared us by playing advertisements of the remastered games such as Wind Waker HD and Majora’s Mask 3D. Soon, it was time for the show to start. The lights dimmed and the lead violinist entered the stage. After getting the orchestra warmed up, the composer walked on, took a bow, and went straight into the show. The tour’s principal conductor, Amy Andersson, was missing this time around but Kevin Zakresky took her place. Zakresky had a docile demeanor about him, yet he was passionate in conducting the orchestra and choir. However, unlike Amy Andersson, he never spoke a single word throughout the show.
The show’s producer, Jason Michael Paul, also briefly showed up on stage to introduce by name, Kevin Zakresky, himself, and to thank the audience for coming to the show and quickly walked off the stage never to be seen again. My experience with the first tour and this one made it feel like possibly something happened that threw them off. Whatever the case, I missed the interaction with the crowd that was present in the show four years ago. Things like Jason bringing his original Zelda game on stage and talking about his passion, Amy Andersson stopping to say a few words between performances including a moment to talk about her Wind Waker that she used to conduct part of the show, were little things that prevented any disconnect from the audience during the first tour in 2012. This time, while the music was great, the emotional investment felt a little less due to a feeling of disconnect. This may be a special case due to the fact that I was at more than one show; but for newcomers, the show no doubt proved to be a treat.
At the very least, we did get video messages from Nitnendo’s powerhouse and legendary creators such as Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aounuma, and Koji Kondo. In these video messages, played between different sets of music, these creators talked about their work on Zelda, its music, and how they wanted it to affect us as gamers. It was a nice treat that somewhat balanced out the lack of crowd interaction from the performers on stage.
As for the music, you know, the most important part of the show, while some sets stayed the same from the earlier tours, most of the music picked for this tour featured pieces from new titles and focused on the recently remastered games. We heard a few interludes, symphonic pieces, and an intermezzo. The show ran as follows:
Quality-wise the orchestra was almost flawless. The only thing I noticed was a different play-style of the harps. I’m sure the musical compositions were slightly changed for the new tours, so as to not seem stagnant, but I couldn’t help but feel like the harps seemed out of tune and a little off from the rest of the orchestra at times; Enough to make my mind start focusing on just the harps until they stopped playing. I can understand why this may have been done but overall it felt a little distracting. Now, this was only for a few pieces, so overall the music was powerful, moving, and the orchestra and choir played great.
The visuals that accompanied the music were beautiful as well. The gameplay and cutscenes shown from the Zelda games included the classics all the way to new titles like Tri Force Heroes and a Link Between Worlds. These were a treat to watch and relive. There was a little bit of repetition when it came to some scenes but overall the videos fit the music and that’s what was important.
I think while I enjoyed this show tremendously, I may have been held back a bit by my former experience with the first tour. Then again, maybe I’m just looking at things through rose colored glasses. After the show, I took the time to speak to a few random fans who were in attendance and all responded favorably, loving the show and everything it had to offer. Two were first-time attendees and one was a veteran. All loved the show.
When it’s all said and done, truly, it was a celebration of the music in Zelda and a masterfully crafted one at that. Master Quest tour was a beautiful expansion of the 2012 25th Anniversary tour and I’m glad I got to attend. If a show is coming to a town near you, I recommend it. If you’re a gamer, a Zelda fan, or just a music lover, the show is sure to entertain and be a pleasant testament of the power of music in video games.