Symphony of the Goddesses brings Link and Zelda to Toronto

When Nintendo first announced the Symphony of the Goddesses, a concert tour highlighting some of The Legend of Zelda‘s most iconic pieces, at E3 2011, we have waited for the show to arrive in Toronto. Well, the wait was finally over last week when Nintendo faithful gathered at the (rather ironically chosen) Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

The concert series, originally announced to celebrate the franchise’s quarter-century (that’s 25 years for the mathematically challenged), was broken into acts, each with their own massive musical pieces as well as some quiet, simpler ones. The entire orchestra was conducted by Eimear Noone, an Irish-born conductor who assured us her name wasn’t from Hyrule or Middle Earth. It was with quips like this that made her stand out from what you might think of as a typical conductor. She had fun with the audience, even conducting some music with the Wind Waker, the staff used in the Zelda title of the same name.

We had the pleasure of listening to an overture of the main themes from the Zelda universe, as well as hand-picked selections from A Link to the Past, Majora’s Mask, and of course, Ocarina of Time. By the end of the night, the audience had given four standing ovations to the performers, the first three of which brought them out for an encore. That’s right: three encore performances and four standing ovations. The crowd loved the show.

The night was a fantastic event overall, and the games were certainly done justice, but the overall experience has to be compared to something that is also near and dear to our hearts: Video Games Live. Having attended five (four in Los Angeles during E3 and one in Toronto at Massey Hall) and being friends with the show’s creator Tommy Tallarico, we must speak on the two events. In actual fact, the shows offer two rather different experiences. While Video Games Live is very much about a varied experience from one game to the next, Symphony of the Goddesses is about exploring one very specific game. That may sound obvious, but it changes the entire dynamic of the evening.

Video Games Live is an incredible event. It showcases the incredible work of video game composers and gives them a massive stage to perform to their faithful fans. But there is no real time to fall in love with an entire story since each game only gets one or two brief pieces to show off. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, though. It means that thousands of fans can enjoy the incredible variety of music they love, whether it is from Zelda or something completely different like Halo. Symphony of the Goddesses does invest additional time in a more singular story where there is perhaps more emotion and a greater audience connection, but it is an entirely different experience.

At the end of the day, if you haven’t had the opportunity to catch Video Games Live or Symphony of the Goddesses, please do your best to see a show when it comes to a city near you. Both are experiences any gamer, whether seasoned or casual, should experience as it will take you on an emotional ride, either because the game evokes emotions, or because you’re hearing music from your childhood, or because you’re just sappy whenever you hear anything played alongside a violin and harp.

If anything, Symphony of the Goddesses is a reason to see Video Games Live and Video Games Live is a reason to see Symphony of the Goddesses. Well done.