By Contro 32 Comments
When Nintendo announced a series of orchestral concerts to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda series at this years E3, I was majorly stoked about the prospect of being able to celebrate such a momentous occasion with other fans in this way. As a life-long fan of the series, I know that it's great music has played a pivotal role in it's success.
Hammersmith, Central London, 25th October 2012
The concert was taking place in the evening at the Hammersmith Apollo, an old London venue designed by Robert Cromie in the Art Deco style of the 1930's. It's what we call a Grade B listed building over here. It's an "English Heritage" award, which results in a building having to retain period architectural features. Anyway, this worked well for the whole affair, so I think the venue was chosen well by Nintendo.
I arrived with my girlfriend to find thousands of fans waiting outside in jovial mood, and it was soon apparent that many had come from all parts of Europe. I pulled out my 3DS to bag a few trophies in Street Fighter IV, and then noticed the StreetPasses were coming in thick and fast. In the end I got about 70 or so hits last night, a number which meant absolutely nothing to me, but from my 3DS waiting in the queue I was able to see just how important this event was to everyone. It was clear that many had travelled from all parts of the world and were very happy to be there on the evidence of their welcome messages. I dread to think how much money some of them may have paid to get the opportunity though, one Austrian couple we spoke to told us they paid about a grand in pounds sterling, and this after the dude recently lost a job working for a mobile games developer in Vienna.
It was nicely laid out inside, the decor looked elegant and the bars were oozing booze and people were happy. I was until I noticed the queue at the merchandise stall. if you can even call it that. Foreigners do not queue quite like we Britons do, the sheer amount of pushing and shoving going on was offensive and disgraceful. I ordered some drinks and asked my girlfriend to wait for me, I knew this was going to take a while.
I had only arrived near the till when the announcer came on to ask people to take their seats, It was at that point I mumbled a few obscenities and asked my girlfriend to bring me the double shot dark rum I'd ordered earlier. I gulped it down, got my Zelda T-shirt and Wind Waker 25th poster, then we both ran upstairs...
(£20 Pounds for a poster, and £25 for a T-shirt)
The atmosphere was electric, Eiji Aonuma then took to the stage to talk about the importance of the event to both Nintendo and it's loyal Zelda fans, many of which couldn't be there to celebrate in person. He also talked about the importance of music in the Zelda series, and how in Skyward Sword the music would be taken to the next level using Wii Motion Plus. Apparently, the music in Skyward Sword will coordinate at times depending on your movements in battles and elsewhere in the game.
Aonuma san introduced us all to the symphony's conductor, Eímear Noone (below), and she in turn introduced us to her orchestra sections, who I should say all played awesome little Zelda jingles to show off their talent. She also introduced us to our guest presenter for the evening, the aptly named, Zelda Williams, who the crowd instantly warmed to after she proclaimed her love for Majora's Mask.
Here's a little Zelda mixing up her valleys and villages, before introducing - 5) Boss Battle Medley, played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with great venom...
2) Princess Zelda's Theme
The "Wind Waker Symphonic Movement" was one of the best moments for me, Wind Waker's music in full orchestral glory was always destined to sound incredibly good, and I found the gameplay footage that accompanied the music amusing and apt, I really liked the rendition of the chirpy music that plays when you're on Ms Tetra's ship. And boy did those violins sound good...
3) Wind Waker Symphonic Movement: (open in new tab with headphones - best bit comes at the end)
4) Ocarina of Time Melody Suite - This went down very well with the Ocarina fans.
5) Boss Battle Medley - Delivered with venom from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I was really impressed by the precision.
6) Kakariko Village - I have no idea what instruments were playing, but I loved what they were doing. Easily one of the best moments and a surprise to me.
7) Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley - This was so awesome, it really was the best way to take fans to the intermission, it spiked the excitement in all of us..
INTERMISSION - Got a burger, sank a bottle of beer and played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
I came away very impressed with what I played of Skyward Sword, it's framerate was rock solid, and the art and full array of colour combinations are truly a feast for your eyes to behold. I don't think I've ever seen a game with bolder colour usage. The newly developed graphical effects have a wild and vivid dreamlike quality which further enhances the whole visual effect. Motion controls require clean clinical swipes in all directions, they have a really nice bite to them once you work out your timing, only then does it begin to feel comfortable and satisfying. I really enjoyed the little things like being able to deflect Ghirahim's electro bolts he sends levitating your way in the boss battle. You can strike them back at him by slicing at them with exactly the same directional slice of the Wii Remote. Agility wise, Link feels great, he's certainly never felt so nimble to control in any previous Zelda games. All this increased agility is tied to a new green stamina gage which appears when Link exerts himself.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Reviews: http://www.giantbomb.com/the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword/61-26934/the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword-reviews/35-520329/#92
8) Gannon's Theme - I loved this, it was as dark as the Boss Medley which the orchestra had done so well with previously.
9) The Legend of Zelda: Selected Short's Suite - A selection of much loved melodies, but never have they sounded this good, my jaw dropped and we all cheered.
10) Gerudo Valley - This was fantastic, my ears had never heard anything like it before, Recorded orchestral music simply doesn't sound as good as this.
11) Hyrule Field Theme - A huge crowd pleaser, this was the moment many had waited for on the evidence of the cheer that rang out.
12) Great Fairy's Fountain Theme - This was so lovely...
Special Guest: Nintendo's Koji Kondo takes to the stage. He sits down at the piano to play "Granny's Theme" from Wind Waker...Listening to it I was reminded of the scene in Wind Waker where Grandma's on the shore waving Link off on his adventure...
13) Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement - The fact this sounded so good wasn't a surprise to me.
14) The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley - A fitting end to a truly magical night for fans.
(official recorded session)
Nintendo have summarised the event with an official press release:
LEGENDARY ATMOSPHERE AT THE LONDON PERFORMANCE OF THE LEGEND OF ZELDA™ 25th ANNIVERSARY SYMPHONY
Fans gathered in their thousands at London’s HMV Apollo in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda
Thousands of fans queued around the block for hours to witness the sell-out performance of The Legend of Zelda™ 25th Anniversary Symphony performance which took place on 25th October 2011 in London, UK. The excitement in the 3,600 capacity venue was palpable, as fans both young and old, travelled from across Europe to listen to orchestral arrangements handpicked by Nintendo composer Mr Koji Kondo and his team from the iconic video game series. The world famous Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra took to the stage and was joined by a number of surprise guests throughout the evening including Nintendo’s Mr Eiji Aonuma and Mr Koji Kondo who have both played pivotal roles in the history of the series.
The evening began with an address from Mr Aonuma who has produced and directed many games within The Legend of Zelda series. As one of the most important creative forces behind the series his attendance at the event was met with rapturous applause from the fans. Mr Aonuma expressed his thanks for the fan support throughout the 25 year history of The Legend of Zelda series and introduced the thousands of fans in attendance to their conductor for the evening, Eimear Noone, who then lead the orchestra and fans on a magical journey through the musical history of the series.
Exclusive to the London performance, Zelda Williams, daughter of the award winning Hollywood actor Robin Williams, acted as surprise guest and compere for the evening as she took to the stage to the delight of the packed house of fans. Delight erupted around the room when she revealed a Triforce logo on the back of her hand and explained how her father had named her after the legendary princess which features within the series. Zelda, who had never hosted an event of this scale before, also spoke movingly about her passion for The Legend of Zelda series whilst growing up and how much her namesake means to her.
The 70 piece orchestra was joined by The London Voices Choir to perform new arrangements including Hyrule Castle Theme, Ocarina Melody Suite and the Kakariko Village - Twilight Princess Theme, all of which was accompanied by classic video footage of The Legend of Zelda series. Each section of the orchestra performed solos using the Ocarina melodies written by Mr Kondo and as a surprise encore; Mr Kondo himself took to the stage to thunderous applause to give a solo piano rendition of Grandma’s Theme from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
The emotion in the auditorium was high and energetic, as fans whooped and cheered, giving standing ovations to the orchestral performances, many of them having waited for hours outside the venue to hear the performance and some even dressed as Zelda and Link. Fans also flooded Twitter throughout the evening with comments such as “enchanting”, “beautiful” and “magical” to describe the evening; many expressed their long standing love of the series since its humble beginnings.
The finale of the performance was once again introduced by Mr Aonuma to much delight and emotion from the fans. He moved the thoughts of the audience on from the past 25 years of The Legend of Zelda series to the latest instalment, The Legend of Zelda™: Skyward Sword. After discussing the upcoming release and its place in the series Mr Aonuma introduced a performance of the new theme for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Laurent Fischer, Managing Director, Marketing & PR at Nintendo of Europe, said: “We were blown away by the atmosphere, passion and excitement expressed by the fans. People travelled from across Europe and queued for hours, they were having a lot of fun and it truly was a magical evening. We see this as an absolutely fitting way to celebrate such an important anniversary – 25 years of The Legend of Zelda series – and the impending European launch of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on 18th November.”
"It was truly an honour and privilege bringing The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Orchestra Concert to London. It was an unforgettable experience and something we hope to do again in the future!" says producers Jason Michael Paul and Jeron Moore of Jason Michael Paul Productions, Inc.
Fans that missed out on attending the concert will be pleased to know that they will be able to get their hands on an exclusive CD* featuring selected orchestral arrangements of iconic music spanning the history of the franchise that were performed as part of The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony performances when they buy their copy of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Nintendo 3DS™ owners will also have the chance to receive via SpotPass™ on Nintendo Video™ a special 3D video of The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Melody which was performed as part of The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony performances. Keep an eye out as special 3D clips of Ballad of the Goddess from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Great Fairy's Fountain Theme from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past will also become available on Nintendo Video before the end of the year.
For more information about The Legend of Zelda visit www.thelegendofzelda.co.uk
For more information about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword visit www.nintendo.co.uk/skywardsword
For more information on The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary visit www.zelda25th.co.uk