By Ashley Altus
Die-hard The Legend of Zelda fans pre-gamed in the lobby of Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre awaiting the music from the video game to be played and sung by a full orchestra and choir.
The Triforce, the iconic symbol from the game composed of three equilateral triangles, adorned their limited-edition black and gold Nintendo 3DS XLs.
The third installment of the Legend of Zelda Symphony concert titled Master Quest sold out the venue’s 3,901 seats for its sole Chicago tour date this month. The concert tour is scheduled to continue into 2017. But parts of the symphony will be performed tonight on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Even though the Zelda Symphony sold out, classical music concert attendance has decreased.The 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Survey of Public Participation reported that attendance at classical music performing arts events declined from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 8.8 percent in 2012.
Enter a new audience of the 150 million Americans who play video games. Orchestra concerts have the opportunity to tap into this market by playing music from video games with cult followings like Zelda.
The symphony goes beyond just a piece of music and resonates on a cultural level for this growing niche audience, with even, television using the love of video game music.
With the names of classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven inscribed on the interior walls of Auditorium Theatre, the show revamped the traditional symphony performance to include multimedia graphics.
Gamers looked away from their dual 4 and 5-inch console screens and instead saw scenes of the game amplified to fit a movie-theater sized screen while listening to an orchestra and choir perform.
Success of the concert hinges on perfectly synced music and visuals. Conductor Amy Andersson and musicians from AWR Music of Chicago wore ear pieces that broadcast the same beat to ensure the music matched the gameplay.
Jason Michael Paul, the executive producer of the symphony, collaborated with the creators of Zelda at Nintendo to create an experience authentic to the games.
“We’re pretty much presenting their vision to a concert environment,” Paul said. “I think this latest installment is the best one yet.”
Nearly 30 years since the game’s premiere, the symphony celebrates games from the franchise such as Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time. The symphony is guided through its acts with introductions from some of the masterminds behind the game such as Eiji Aonuma and Shigerru Miyamoto. Master Quest also includes the addition of new music and graphics from the game Majora’s Mask.
“It’s some of the most notable music ever written for a video game or any movie,” Paul said. “It’s the game I grew up with.”
Christy Plasil, 25, has been playing The Legend of Zelda games since she was a child, and intensely for the past six to seven years. Dressed up as Princess Zelda for the concert, she said the music of the game means a lot to her.
“It’s what really draws you in,” Plasil said. “It’s a beautiful story and a wonderful gameplay itself, but it’s the music that really captures it.”
Fans dressed up in green hoods like Link, the protagonist of the Zelda franchise, or in Plasil’s case, like Princess Zelda. The costumes created a festival atmosphere at the symphony. With posters, t-shirts and even the sheet music for sale at the show, fans could dive even deeper into the Zelda community.