The Symphony of the Goddesses and How It Broke Me
“We laughed, we cried, we embraced the pixelated nostalgia set before us with open arms”. If I could sum up the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses show with one quote that would be it, but the concert was so much more. Last week I managed to attend one of two performances the touring production put on in Houston. It’d be so easy to say that this show was simply Zelda music expanded to an orchestral level, but the effort put into the show by both the performers and producers made it a magical journey through decades of this franchise’s legacy.
(Bear in mind that throughout this post there’ll be mention of specific moments in the show. I’m going to try and not spoil as much as I can, but if you already have a ticket to an upcoming show and don’t want to know ANYTHING then don’t read ahead).
It’s so surreal to see something that’s such a large part of your life brought out in front of you, but that surreal feeling was euphoric. I actually missed the start of the show due to an elevator problem, so I can’t speak on the exact introduction of all the music, but there was plenty show left for me to enjoy! The concert acts on what are essentially pillars of the Zelda franchise. The leading titles in the show were: Majora’s Mask, A Link to the Past (and A Link Between Worlds), Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. All of these games have some sort of significance to longtime fans of the series both individually and combined, so someone is getting misty no matter who is in the audience. Speaking of: I cried. A lot. Specifically when Wind Waker’s music started playing.
Before I get into my personal story about all of this I just want to say this: You get everything with this show. You get the beautiful music that provided the soul to so many great games. You get personal messages from the various creative minds that brought this epic series to life. You get to see some of the biggest and most iconic moments happen on screen behind the orchestra as they’re playing. It’s a perfect mix of everything old and new. It will make so many intense feelings rush through your body and it will pull you into these worlds one by one.
Now, as much as I try not to whine over terrible things happening in life, I’m going to make an exception for providing some background.
When I first played the Wind Waker I had not too long before that lost my mother. It was a very emotionally heavy time (for one) and I wouldn’t have had the LoZ series in my life if it wasn’t for my mother specifically. Up until that point I hadn’t beaten a Zelda game. I’d play them, I LOVED playing them, but I was a little too young and a little too dumb to commit to actually playing a lot of them to completion. Wind Waker was the first one that I’d ever played to the end. It was the one I spent the most time on (even getting stuck at the most inane of obstacles and dungeons).
What got me with that game though, what got me then and what gets me now, was how heavily Link’s family played into his story. I was a kid that just lost the most important person in their life. The only people I had left were my grandparents and my sister, coincidentally, those were the only things Link had to himself as well. It spoke to me. It made me feel like I was that kid, like I actually got to be in that story, and I cared. so. much. And his sister is put into this dangerous situation, she’s gone, and he has to go save her. He leaves home and it breaks his grandmother’s heart. And, forgive me for crying and typing and being a sap, but the last memories I have of my grandmother in good health were right before I went off to school a few years ago.
When I think of the long hours I spent with that game, with that story of a boy fighting for his sister and feeling the pain of having to leave his grandmother behind, it breaks me. I tried to hold it in. I tried to not cry even a little bit and get through the opening notes, but the SECOND they got to the shot of Link waving to his grandmother on the ship I couldn’t hold it in.
For a lot of people video games mean nothing. For a lot of people they’re just things that you pop in to have fun when a movie or a TV show isn’t entertaining enough. But there are so many people that feel these stories.
There are so many people that value the comfort and safety these video games provide. Wind Waker was the game that got me through the toughest time I’ve ever been through in my life, it spoke to me in ways that still resonate to this day, and I’m so thankful for that. Hearing that music again reminded me of what it was like to be that kid again. To not understand life, but to be glad that I got to see such a beautiful world in front of me. So much of my happiness from playing the game was rooted in the music. The Wind Waker brought beauty, color, and vibrance to a very bleak and dark time for me.
My first LoZ game was A Link to the Past. We didn’t have much money, but my mom had an NES and would let me play it from time to time. Once I got old enough (around 5-ish) I begged her to get me the SNES. We were kinda behind, but whatever, she caved and it was worth it. I can’t remember any other games that I played on that thing aside from LoZ and Ken Griffey Jr.’s Baseball (I was a beast at that game FYI). It started my obsession with Zelda, it bred my passion, and not even a year later I was begging to get an N64 to keep my addiction going.
The feeling of hearing this music again was more than nostalgia. I can’t speak highly enough of the people that put this together. I already tweeted the zeldasymphony account and their conductor (what’s felt like) ten thousand times, but I just might do it again to say this: Thank you. My story isn’t everyone’s, but I imagine that there are so many that experienced their own bit of joy at being able to relive both the good and the tragic when listening to this music.
That’s what I will say about these songs and this concert. The Legend of Zelda series is one that always found hope in the face of tragedy, gave a legacy to a nameless and faceless hero, and promoted the advent of courage in a world that is often lacking it. It has given so many people courage (to believe in something, to be vulnerable, to spend 12 hours solving cave puzzles). The fact that such a series can accomplish this feat with a hero that doesn’t speak only speaks to how incredible its music is. I love you, Legend of Zelda, and your music only served to remind me how deep that love ran. May the songs you sing always be as beautiful as that night was to me.