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Fans love the epic, emotionally charged music from The Legend of Zelda role-playing franchise. I recently chatted with Jason Michael Paul, creator of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses live-concert series, to ask him what makes Zelda's music so special, what his dream project would be, and what the future might hold for video game music concerts.
Louis Garcia: Why do a show focused on Zelda?
Jason Michael Paul: I just think that with a 25, now 26-year, history, Zelda is one of the most [storied] franchises. We saw the success of those concerts [Paul previously created Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy and Play! A Video Game Symphony], and it was kind of [a] necessity that we do a concert to continue on. It’s more or less a natural progression. There’s only two franchises worthy of getting their own concerts: Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda.
Garcia: What is your relationship with the video game series?
Paul: I’m 35, so it’s my generation. I grew up playing video games. That’s what I used to do as a kid and I still do. I downloaded an emulator to play the NES [Nintendo Entertainment System] classics while I’m traveling.
Garcia: What do you think shows like this do for fans and also those who aren’t as into video games? Do the concerts push the medium to more cultural acceptance?
Paul: Yeah, definitely. You don’t have to be a video game or Zelda fan to appreciate the music or progress. It’s a wonderful show that appeals to everybody.
Garcia: How do you choose what music to play?
Paul: I work hand in hand with the creators of The Legend of Zelda game. Koji Kondo, our music director … we go though the music and figure out the best way to present the show. We’ve taken all the games … essentially we’re doing a retelling of the story of The Legend of Zelda.
That’s how we’ve structured it. We have it done in a way that we do everything in sync with the visuals and the actual music. That’s the difference with our show. It’s in sync. Everything has a purpose.
Garcia: Having had a number of shows, how do you feel about what you’ve put together?
Paul: I’m extremely proud of it. For the first time, I can actually watch the show. I never get tired of watching it.
I get the most satisfaction from the fans’ reactions. That, to me, is the best part. I haven’t gotten one bad review, knock on wood. The praise I’ve gotten from fans and everyone is great.
Garcia: I understand your company produced the CD that comes with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Will you be working on more projects with Nintendo? What would be a dream compilation or concert to put together? Do you have another gaming saga you’d love to work with?
I have some things brewing in my mind. Play! A Video Game Symphony features Mario, Metroid, Zelda…. My dream would be a Nintendo all-star concert where I focus solely on Nintendo properties, whether Kid Icarus or Kirby. That’s really what I want to do.
I also think The Elder Scrolls series is worthy of a concert devoted to it … and I have a close relationship with Jeremy Soule, the composer of that game. So who knows?
The orchestral CD was — out of all the things I’ve ever done — that was the highlight of my career. To do a project like that for Nintendo and have it release with a marquee title. It was a great opportunity to showcase my talents.
I was very pleased with the final product. I kind of put together a who’s who of the entertainment industry to make it happen. It’s a labor of love. Right now we’re really catching steam. Take full advantage because this concert is not to be missed.
Pictured above: Eimear Noone conducts Minneapolis musicians during a dress rehearsal attended by members of the press, the Twin Cities' Orpheum Theatre.