The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Eímear Noone, brought a packed Mann Center to its feet for three encores, a triumphant achievement considering the crowd. Both young and old were dressed in their most symphony-appropriate duds, in this case ranging from black tie to green tunic, pointed cap and Elven ears.
Yes, the Legend of Zelda had descended upon Philadelphia and under a starlit sky, Link battled Ganon to rescue Princes Zelda and save the Triforce from falling into the hands of darkness.
I hadn’t tried my hand at Zelda since Nintendo’s 8-bit days and even then, saving Princess Toadstool was always more enticing. So I was skeptical of the draw a symphony orchestra would have on gamers, more so doubting the willingness of symphony-goers to spend their evening rejoicing in the sounds of video game music. Even so, with traffic backed up well beyond the exit for the Mann, I realized I was greatly mistaken.
Upon entering the spectacular outdoor concert hall, I found myself engulfed in a sea of nearly 14,000 Zelda fans who remained perched on the edge of their seats throughout the four movement symphony. The music moved me, but it was the accompanying video that brought me deep into Zelda’s world. Each movement focused on thematic music from Zelda’s 16 official titles. The crowd roared with the introduction of each new character. They jeered villains and cheered with their defeat, then pumped their fists and roared for more.
The violin and English horn pulled at my heartstrings. The soothing sounds of the harp and Philadelphia’s own Singers Chorale created an atmosphere of enchantment. However, it was the infectious glee in Ms. Noone’s smile as she unveiled her very own Wind Waker that proved this conductor could create magic. As she waved it in the air, and Link dashed across the screen, I dreaded the moment the music would stop. And though we stood cheering as she left her podium, the crowd was reluctant to file from their seats. Luckily she returned and brought us to our feet thrice more before releasing us from her spell. The evening was dream-like, surpassing my every expectation, and making a Zelda fan of me.
So after my memorizing evening with Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Gerudo Valley, The Ballad of the Wind Fish, and Majora’s Mask, I rushed home, popped in Skyward Sword, picked up my Wii controller, and lost myself in the land of Hyrule.
To sample the sounds and see Eímear Noone in action, check out the video.