For children of the '80s, there are two video game franchises that stand above all others: Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Their soundtracks were the soundtracks of our childhoods, and although most of us have long moved on to other things, anytime we hear that music, it brings back a rush of nostalgia.
Concert producer Jason Michael Paul is counting on that nostalgia, among other things, when he brings The Legend of Zelda - Symphony of the Goddesses to Annette Strauss Square on October 12, with a little help from the Dallas POPS Orchestra.
The concert is a complete four-movement symphony played by Dallas POPS live and synced up with footage from the multiple Zelda games Nintendo has put out over the past 25 years. This is actually the second time the show has been in Dallas this year, as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra also presented the show at the Meyerson Symphony Center back in January.
Paul has a long history with the video game industry. He has also produced a Final Fantasy-themed concert and one called Play! that incorporates multiple video games. He sat down with CultureMap Dallas to discuss his inspirations and what to expect Friday night.
CultureMap: What made you decide to bring together video games and classical music in the first place?
Jason Michael Paul: I had been working in the opera and classical music genres with Luciano Pavarotti and the Three Tenors, while also maintaining my [involvement in] video games. When the opportunity came to present a show with Final Fantasy, another wildly popular franchise, I just thought that it was the perfect hybrid of a show — great classical music combined with video games. A dream show, if you will, of all of my passions.
CM: What made The Legend of Zelda an obvious choice for this treatment?
JMP: It has over 25 years of history, something that resonates with me personally. I've been a Zelda fan since it first came out, and the music that [Nintendo composer and sound director] Koji Kondo has written for this game lends itself perfectly to a symphony.
CMD: Do you find working with different orchestras pretty smooth in general?
JMP: I've been doing this for over 10 years, so I've kind of got it down to a science at this point. My experience is getting easier and easier; the caliber and the musicianship of the orchestras that we do hire is excellent. A lot of the people in the orchestra world are starting to see what benefits they can get from presenting such shows as mine.
CMD: This concert seems like an obvious draw for video game/Zelda fans, but what could you say to your typical classical music fan to convince them to come out?
JMP: You don't have to be a Zelda fan to appreciate the quality of musicianship, nor do you have to be a Zelda fan to appreciate the arrangements that have been written or the music we perform. We present a four-movement symphony devoted to The Legend of Zelda and essentially it's a retelling [of that saga] through the music and the visuals. It really speaks to pop culture, and it's giving credit where credit is due.
CMD: Because this will be outside at Annette Strauss Square instead of inside the Meyerson, how do you think that will affect the acoustics or performance?
JMP: In my opinion, I always like outdoor shows better, provided the weather permits. I think it's always more special when it's under the stars; it just adds to the moment and the mood.