I swear to you that this is not a review of an orchestra concert, OK? So hear me out before you close out this window and get back to your Facebook stalking.
Some people love classical music and think
it's perfectly reasonable to pay $50 a ticket to see a bunch of
greybeards play the instruments the rest of us got bored with at age 10,
and that's great. I am not one of them. For me, classical music fits in
somewhere between high school trig class and staring at walls in my
spectrum of preferred entertainment.
I'd gone 33 years without ever feeling the urge to see an orchestra
concert, and was sure I could have gone a few hundred more. But then
came The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses to change my mind. Like many people, I love all things Zelda.
It's been that way since I was 8 and my grandma gave me a shiny golden
cartridge to go along with my new Nintendo Entertainment System.
The concert converted me into a connoisseur of classical music. Now I
can appreciate the oboes' flat notes, the harmony between the bass and
the harps and the excellently refined dinging of the xylophone.
kidding. I hardly noticed the music, which as far as I was concerned
was just elevator musak with vaguely recognizable melodies accompanying
the freakin' awesomest Zelda movie anyone has put together.
Imagine if someone had been sitting behind you your whole life,
recording your most triumphant moments and making them into a movie on a
giant HD screen set to Joe Esposito's "You're the Best Around,"
Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" and things like that. That's pretty much
this concert. Only it's the life of Link and the music isn't quite so
My 5-year-old son, Luke, whose Zelda worship
rivals my own, sat agog as Link shanked Ganon in the chest what seemed
like hundreds of thousands of times through all the mainline Zelda
games. We giggled as cuckoos swarmed the green-hooded hero, chasing him
around and inflicting red flashes of pain. We stifled tears as Link
waved goodbye to his little sister at the end of Wind Waker.
Almost every Zelda game has been a remake of
the previous entry, with the hero, heroine and villains names
unchanged. Despite that, fans try to make sense of the overarching
"story," and Nintendo has lately sort of retroactively agreed that "oh
yeah, this is totally a cohesive legend with an actual timeline." The
show follows along that supposed timeline, subtly, unintentionally
mocking the concept by showing how similar so many moments in every game
Even though it's awe-inspiring to revisit some of the greatest
moments of your gaming life, it's also halfway depressing, making you
step back and think, "Did I really need to waste those 500 hours doing
the same damn things over and over again?
Such thoughts were chased away by the next daring rescue, bellowing boss intro or horseback leap across a chasm.
series, which has spanned 26 years, has a ton of high moments, and the
visuals manage to capture just about all of the great ones. The only
time the show falters is when it cuts to live footage of the musicians
for a few seconds. I saw the moments as obligatory homages, sort of like
when you tip your mail man, but Luke was not so forgiving. He protested
by refusing to clap at the end of pieces that dared cut away from
To be fair, the musicians looked sort of bored having to play for a
crowd of ingrates like us. No doubt they don't find 8-bit chiptunes as
challenging as Beethoven's 92nd Sonata in the Fifth Octave, or whatever.
We felt a little bad for them, especially for having to just sit there
as the conductor, who did nothing but wave her hands around, pretending
to be in control as no musicians watched, took all the credit.
By the way, although Luke and I are huge Zelda
fans, were nowhere near as devoted as many of the other people who
showed up. The crowd bustled with people wearing green Link tunics,
black-and-gold Ganondorf armor and white, frilly Zelda
dresses. Most of those who didn't go in full cosplay mode wore at least
one piece of clothing emblazoned with the Triforce symbol. Perusing the
crowd was self-affirming, giving even the biggest Zelda dweebs a chance to say, "Thank the goddesses I'm not as much of a dork as that guy."
Not that there was any judgment at play. Like a a comic con, there
was a silent understanding that we had all seen the same things,
suffered in the same ways and developed a shared understanding of a
transcendent cultural movement that we not only have followed, but felt a
Or maybe it was more like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. We were
drawn together because we all have a serious problem, and it was time to
admit it. Either or.