Big in Japan for decades, symphonic concerts of that country’s most popular (and hummable) classic video game tunes have now hit critical mass in America. It’s a dream come true for fans of the blockbuster Nintendo series The Legend of Zelda, as Jason Michael Paul Productions presents the first-ever North American tour of its kind called The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.
With a high profile performance in Los Angeles last month hosted by Zelda Williams (the star of last year’s Nintendo DS commercials with papa Robin, who named her after the series’ eponymous princess), Symphony of the Goddesses is playing to packed houses and has dates lined up all the way through November 28, when it hits the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
In this exclusive interview, I caught up with JMP CEO and the show’s executive producer Jason Michael Paul to discuss his pioneering history of bringing video game concerts to America, the special surprises planned for the tour, and his rebuttal to Roger Ebert’s notorious opinion on the artistic merit of video games.
Tell us a little about how this concert tour came to be. How did you get Nintendo’s blessing?
I have been producing VGM concerts since 2004 when I created Dear Friends: Music from FINAL FANTASY. Since then I have produced successful concerts including “PLAY! A Video Game Symphony.” Given my track record and working history with Nintendo, it was natural for my company to participate in the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda with symphony concerts in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and London. My company also produced the orchestral CD that was included in the bundle with [the 2011 Wii game] Skyward Sword. The success of the opening of the Nintendo 2011 press event, the 25th Anniversary Concerts, and the recording paved the way for the license to produce The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses.
How did The Legend of Zelda game series first appear on your radar?
In 1987, when my parents purchased it for me to play on my NES.
What’s your favorite Zelda game and why? How would you define the series’ appeal?
My favorite Zelda game is the latest release because I feel as if I contributed to the tile. I was honored to produce the orchestral CD that accompanied the release of the game. The series has appeal through excellent gameplay and music. Throughout its 25-year history Zelda has consistently featured a solid mixture of action, puzzles, battle, adventure gameplay, exploration, and questing.
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