Back in December of 2011, a creative brief flew across my desk for a concert the Dallas Symphony Orchestra would be performing on the 10th of January. The image was not your typical concert musician shot nor did it resonate any sort of idea that this would be a symphony concert. In fact, the only reason I knew what the image was is simply because I have four boys who play video games. And The Legend of Zelda, a popular Nintendo video game series, would be the feature for this musical presentation.
Upon digging into the brief, I discovered that the music from The Legend of Zelda had been composed for a symphony concert which really had me a bit baffled. This was not the norm within my world as I've been helping promote classical concerts for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the last ten years of my life and throwing a video game concept into the mix was just...well...weird.
Come to find out, this is not a new concept. Back in 2008, composer Nobuo Uematsu joined up with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a one night only performance of Final Fantasy. According to an article in NPR, the show sold out in three days. As I mentioned previously, I've been doing this for a long time and the idea that a classical concert would sell out in three days is unheard of.
This particular concert with the DSO, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, is being produced for Nintendo by Jason Michael Paul Productions, Inc. by producer/director Jeron Moore and music director/lead arranger Chad Seiter, the guys responsible for bringing The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert to London and Los Angeles back in October 2011. Working closely with Nintendo's Koji Kondo, JMP Productions, Inc. was able to bring the evidently iconic music behind the game to the symphony hall.
When telling my own children of this, they were already two steps ahead of me with purchased Zelda music in hand all loaded up on their iPods. "Here Dad, listen to this. It's really cool."
"Here Dad, listen to this. It's really cool."
Let me tell you why this is probably one of the most important statements I've ever heard. It's true that this is a successful show and symphony orchestras everywhere will revel in the success of selling tickets out at record speeds. Sold out is a phrase that's hard to come by these days on any venue and I don't care if you're John Mayer or Maroon Five. But the mere idea that thousands of children are listening to such wonderful music is something I don't think even Nintendo could have imagined.
As a developer or creative person, an agenda is the last thing on your mind. You just want to produce a great piece of work, whatever it is that you're creating. The innovation behind using classical music to engage animation and action is the result of an extremely driven creative brain. And the result of great creative is what we're seeing now with The Legend of Zelda. Success.
Appreciation for classical music within young people has always been a challenge. You don't ever hear of anyone giving their children classical piano lessons anymore. My wife is a bit of an endangered species as she took classical piano resulting in recitals as a young lady. She loves classical piano and still plays on occasion but gets really aggravated when I come in and listen. Apparently that makes her nervous but what I'm getting at here is a real loss of culture within our own society. Without classical music being taught to our children, where will classical music end up?
My hats off to Nintendo as well as producer Jeron Moore, executive producer Jason Michael Paul, music director Chad Seiter and all of the great musicians, composers and orchestrators that made this happen. I'll bet they had no idea that just by creating something so incredible, they would spark a classical fire within the heart of a child.
Here's to Zelda...pointy ears and all.