Originally published on Pixelitis.net on July 25, 2013.
On June 12, 2013, several miles away from the insanity of E3, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses celebrated its 50th performance on at the Greek Theatre in LA.
To mark that momentous occasion, I sat down with producers Jeron Moore and Jason Michael Paul to talk about how the desire to bring Zelda music to a concert hall came about, as well as how certain facets, such as the construction of the setlist and their ongoing relationship with Nintendo fared.
While the interview with Moore has been published for some time now, there are always things that get kind of lost in the shuffle, my interview with Jason Michael Paul unfortunately being one of them. But now that we’re in a far tamer point in time, with E3 having subsided and the Zelda Symphony continuing its tour around America, I find it appropriate to finally share it with you.
Thank you for joining me in talking about Symphony of the Goddesses.
You’ve had experience with videogame music concerts before. I know you’ve handled Dear Friends: Final Fantasy, [among others]. How did the desire to produce these kinds of shows come about?
I think it was just the right time and right place, and having some key relationships with Uematsu-san from Final Fantasy fame, and also having quite a bit of experience producing operatic performances by Luciano Pavarotti. It was really just a melding of my two passions, and at the time I had done this no one else was doing it, so it was nice, because I was on the cutting edge of something that hadn’t really been done. Obviously, when you have the initial success that we did with Dear Friends and that first show in 2004, it was just magical. I really wanted to continue on this path and now, here we are, doing the same thing expect with a different franchise.
How does the song selection process for these kinds of shows go? I imagine Nintendo has final say with a lot of it?
It’s pretty much Chad [Seiter] and Jeron [Moore] really weaving their way through the franchise and obviously Chad, being the musical genius that he is, was able to really tell a story through music and that’s why we kind of gave birth to the four-movement symphony idea which is not only the first time it’s ever been done for a videogame, but it’s really what a symphony is. Chad and Jeron were really instrumental in choosing that and then of course, my role is more or less: bring it before the client: Nintendo and having them give us feedback on what works and what doesn’t work.
And I imagine there have been moments where Nintendo had said “maybe not this [piece] so much, but this?”
Not really, actually. It’s surprising that it’s not. The only titles that we present to them [in which they have to make changes] is when they have licensing issues, where there’s actually some other parties involved or something along those lines. So yeah, that’s really been the only hurdle that we [had to] overcome, but other than that it’s been pretty smooth sailing.
How have you gauged fan feedback? What kind of feedback have you been hearing on these shows?
It’s been wonderful. Fans continue to come. This is Second Quest, this is the second year in a row that we’ve been in L.A. With Second Quest this season it’s been overwhelming. Fans are really enjoying it and as long as they continue to enjoy it, then I’m going to continue bringing them shows.
This is not necessarily Zelda-related or anything, but it is videogame music-related. What would you say is an under-appreciated videogame soundtrack that you think deserves an orchestral arrangement?
It’s a good question. (pause) I’ll have to think about that. A lot of them. It’s tough: most of the games I like I’ve already given a treatment to of some sorts as part of Play!
Sorry to have stumped you on this one.
Stumper! It’s a real tough one.
Maybe not even “underappreciated” but just games in general.
It’s really tough. I haven’t done Tetris, I like that. I want to do Kid Icarus…
Jeron was saying the same thing.
Yeah, it’s an excellent choice.
Yeah, I think that’s the one that I really wouldn’t mind getting a part of [into] my other show, rePLAY.
And finally, what’s your favorite Zelda piece, and why?
You know, I love Majora’s Mask. I like that piece, it’s fun; it kind of wants to make you dance a little bit. I also like the “Prelude” as part of this concert, it’s really well done. I also like the movement that includes The Wind Waker. There’s so much good music…”Ganon’s Theme.” I think it’s all inspiring, just to be a part of this and to be working on such a wonderful franchise and presenting it in front of massive audiences. That’s where the excitement lies and seeing the reactions from the fans, that’s really all the motivation that I need.