'Zelda' game music becomes full-blown symphony in concert
A preview of "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses," which features an orchestra, the Irish conductor Eimear Noone, and images from the various "Zelda" games projected on screen at Seattle's Benaroya Hall.
Special to The Seattle Times
'The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses'7:30 p.m. Monday, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $55-$125 (206-215-4747 or www.seattlesymphony.org/benaroya).
For some of us, the music of Koji Kondo was once something in the background, blaring from a television while a kid was playing with a Nintendo 64 game system, or making a tinny racket via a Game Boy in your car's back seat.
Who could have predicted some of that same music would one day be performed in Benaroya Hall?
On Monday, Kondo's score (and that of other composers) for Nintendo's long-popular video game series "The Legend of Zelda" receives a full-blown concert treatment in Seattle. A touring production called "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses" features an orchestra, a young Irish conductor named Eimear Noone, and images from the various "Zelda" games.
Not just for fanboys, the show's music represents an advance in the growing genre of video-game compositions rearranged for the concert hall.
"Zelda" music by Kondo, an inspirational figure in video-game composition, has been heard in Benaroya as recently as 2008 and 2011 in popular "PLAY! A Video Game Symphony" performances. Those shows, which helped draw a new audience to symphonic music, offered selections from "Zelda" and other games reorchestrated for 80 or more musicians.
"Symphony of the Goddesses" takes things to the next level.
"I wanted to take the 'Zelda' story and make it like a film score," says "Goddesses" arranger and music director Chad Seiter. "The logical way to do that was with a symphony. We broke down the 'Zelda' timeline from its various games in the series, mapped it out and designed it for four movements."
"The Legend of Zelda," an action-fantasy game set in a mythical land called Hyrule, has deepened and extended its storyline through a franchise that began in Japan in 1986 and includes 15 sequels. Seiter wrote new arrangements for music from several of them, including "Ocarina of Time," "Twilight Princess" and "A Link to the Past."
"Each movement focuses on a different 'Zelda' game," says Seiter, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. "But the story flows and the music fits it. The visual images from the games the audience will see are arranged to play along."
Seiter, 29, whose composer and orchestrator credits include J.J. Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek" film, says that Noone, herself a video-game orchestrator ("World of Warcraft"), was "our first and last stop" for a "Goddesses" conductor.
"I wanted to make sure this music was for everybody," says Seiter.
"You've got your 30-year-old gamer who grew up playing 'Zelda.' I want him or her to bring their 6-year-old child to the concert, too. And I want that child's grandparents to come and enjoy it. What people can expect is a thorough musical experience that is cinematic, narrative and lyrical."
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org