It’s dangerous to go (to the symphony) alone. You may want to take a friend.
Video games and classical music will collide Sunday as the “Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” tour hits the Saroyan Theater. The multimedia performance, based on the popular Nintendo role-playing video game franchise “The Legend of Zelda,” will include a full orchestra and a large screen broadcasting iconic gameplay scenes.
Conductor Kevin Zakresky says the performance will serve as “a gateway concert to orchestral music” for some, while at the same time appeal to regular symphony attendees.
“It’s a great way for people who may want to check out classical shows but don’t know how to get started,” he says. “There’s nothing quite like seeing an orchestra live, and it’s very exciting to see the medium of the symphony orchestra reach out to so many people.”
The atmosphere is far different from a traditional classical music performance. Some people arrive in costume, dressed in green tunics while sporting elf ears and foam swords. Pro tip: The main character’s name is Link. Zelda is the princess he is trying to save.
In addition to video game footage, cameras on the stage will capture audience members before the show – similar, Zakresky says, to the Jumbotron at a sports game.
Zakresky, who has led classical orchestras and chamber choirs for 15 years, had little experience with “The Legend of Zelda” before signing on to “Symphony of the Goddesses.” His twin brother was the gamer in the family.
“I played piano,” Zakresky said. “My brother played video games.”
1986“The Legend of Zelda” hit stores 30 years ago.
The Zelda tour has allowed for some memorable moments for Zakresky, who conducted the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at Wembley Arena for the show’s London performance. The Fresno performance will be the Vancouver native’s first trip to California.
Although the show is gaming-related, Zakresky promises a performance fit for any classical fan.
“The score is really second-to-none,” he says. “And this is the biggest orchestra I’ve had the pleasure of conducting.”
The orchestra includes the traditional brass, wind and strings with an enlarged percussion and, crucially, two harps. Harps are a big deal in video games, Zakresky says, and they’re placed facing each other in order to rip out “dueling” melodies.
The conductor notes that many great compositions have come out of Japanese video games in the last few decades. A similar symphony tour focusing on the scores of several “Final Fantasy” games crossed the country in 2015. He believes the trend is part of classical music’s move west from Europe. American film composers created many of the great classical works in the 20th century, and that movement crossed the Pacific Ocean to Japanese game composers.
If you plan on going Sunday, Zakresky recommends showing up early. The hardcore fans tend to line up more than an hour before showtime to show off their costumes and talk all things Zelda.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are still available.
Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses
▪ 7:30 p.m. Sunday
▪ Tickets on sale now