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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at Arlene Schnitzer, Sat March 16

Posted by Morgan Troper on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:09 AM

zeldaorchestra.jpg
  • Andrew Craig / image not from Portland show

"But why was it so weird? Have you ever seen a live orchestra?"

I've been telling a lot of people about my terrifically bizarre experience Saturday night at the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert at the Schnitz, and this has essentially been everyone's reaction. The answer to that question is technically yes, but practically no—I was actually dragged, against my will to at least four million classical concerts by my grandparents when I was a young kid. While it would be nice to think that those experiences left an inextricable imprint on my subconscious mind responsible for my innate (semi-)understanding of music, they realistically just taught me how to cope with immense boredom (something I'm exceptional at). Classical music in a live context still doesn't appeal to me whatsoever. I lack the required attention span—or perhaps just the necessary mental capacity in general—it takes to give a shit.

But my musical cultivation (or lack thereof) is beside the point. First of all, I'm intimately familiar with this immensely esoteric music: I own physical, Japanese imports of the Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Wind Waker official soundtracks and bump those fuckers in their entirety at least bi-monthly. Needless to say, I am a fan. Secondly, the Symphony of the Goddesses is a whole different ballgame. Sure, it's a symphony, but—at the risk of sounding like a yucky, overwrought press release—it doesn't end there: There's a massive screen in the center of the stage that displays footage from a variety of specific Zelda games/scenarios synchronized with the orchestra. This aspect of the performance is far from unexpected, but it's unjustifiably elaborate.

Composer Koji Kondo's scores are beautiful, if not archetypically grandiose and medieval-sounding, but the accompanying, grainy footage from technologically obsolete Zelda games on a gargantuan screen generated this overarching ugliness that was stupid and surreal, but most importantly, prevented the audience from connecting with the music on a personal level. The footage was a belligerent reminder that Zelda© music does, as a matter of fact, come from Zelda© games and singlehandedly steered the entire thing a little closer to Vegas-y promo hoopla and away from a legitimate and solely musical experience. I may have gone to this show under the pretext of "celebrating an iconic multimedia franchise" but Zelda doesn't just remind me of Zelda. Zelda—and its music, specifically—reminds me of eating awful cafeteria food and bunting in kickball and the first (and third-to-last) girl I ever got a valentine from. Zelda reminds me of a specific time in my childhood, and, courtesy of the extremely awkward and oppressive visual component, these were memories I was unable to quietly revisit.

"The flow of time is always cruel…its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it… A thing that does not change with time is a memory of younger days."—Sheik, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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