VG Tribune

Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Returns for ‘Second Quest’ – Interview with Executive Producer, Jason Michael Paul

June 17, 2013 / 1:46 PM

By: Matthew Williams


Previous attendees of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert series know the pure excitement that unfolds when a professional orchestra takes the stage to play one of gaming’s most beloved franchises. If you missed the first musical experience, now is the time to catch it. Coming back for its ‘Second Quest’, the tour is back for another season – complete with fresh musical content from many of your favorite Legend of Zelda games (including Skyward Sword!).

I recently got to interview the Executive Producer, Jason Michael Paul, about his thoughts on the concert series and the new content it plans to deliver. The full interview can read in its entirety below.

Though the second season has already started, you still have a chance to catch the excitement – the next stop will be in Austin, followed by a trip to Philadelphia. Tickets and a schedule of the upcoming stops can also be found by clicking here.

A big thanks to Jason Michael Paul for providing his insight throughout this interview.

Williams: First off, thank you again for taking the opportunity to talk to me about The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. It is a pleasure to be talking to the CEO of the agency that, in the eyes of many gamers worldwide, has put on one of the greatest gaming-based orchestral concert series’ ever.

Jason Michael Paul: Thank you!

Williams: Can you give me some insight into the story of how this lifetime opportunity arose for yourself and the agency?

Jason Michael Paul: I had been working with Nintendo on another project called Play! A Video Game Symphony, which I created. I had a working relationship with Nintendo for quite some time, and they always knew what I was up to. With the 25th anniversary, they wanted to go big with the Legend of Zelda. With that happening, we created the ‘25th Anniversary’ concerts of London, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. We always had the idea of creating a show and taking it on the road, much like I did with Final Fantasy. Nintendo was in support of the idea, and they still are. That is where we are now – we are on our ‘second quest’, so to speak. We are going back to the cities with a new show called Second Quest; it is really exciting.

Williams: Can you elaborate a bit more on what that is going to entail?

Jason Michael Paul: The movements will remain the same. Those will be a standard part of the show. However, we are going to supplement those existing four movements with some performances of other works we will introduce. It is going to be a new show for fans that have already seen it.

Williams: You had about 20 cities in the U.S. alone during the first season – all the cities gave the concert great reviews. With the initial list that has been released, there aren’t as many cities – were there some special criteria that you used in determining the second season’s concert stops? Did these cities sell out faster than others? Did they get more positive reviews from audience members?

Jason Michael Paul: Not necessarily. We are just rolling it out a little bit slower this year. The cities we have listed are ones we had great success with. In our industry, it is not advisable to go to the same city every year, but we are being more methodical in how we rollout this tour. My focus right now is on Europe. It is a huge undertaking to go into another country and promote a show.

Williams: I will actually be out in Philadelphia when that show comes around.

Jason Michael Paul: What is awesome about the Philadelphia show is we are going to be working with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Philadelphia Orchestra has never performed a video game piece before, so it will be pretty exciting.

Williams: Oh great! I thought the Austin Symphony Orchestra, when I saw them play the first season, was amazing.

Jason Michael Paul: You know we are coming back to Austin, correct?

Williams: I do. I unfortunately won’t be in Austin. But, I’ll definitely be at the Philadelphia show when it comes around.

Jason Michael Paul: Ok, cool!

Williams: My understanding is the concert either uses the city orchestra or hires freelance musicians to play this material. Is that staying the same? Did you find that model to be very effective in conveying the heart and theme of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses’ music?

Jason Michael Paul: It really depends on the territory we go into. My preference would be to partner with local orchestras to play the show. If that does not work out, then we would just contract out to local musicians.

Williams: Throughout the first season, did the musicians have positive reviews to the music they were playing?

Jason Michael Paul: They definitely have an appreciation. The music is very well written. People who appreciate classical music or orchestrations will enjoy it. Musicians need to stay challenged and to many of them, this was. There has been an overwhelming response from the musicians and how much they appreciate it.

Williams: When you took the responses from the musicians and audience members back to Koji Kondo, he must have been ecstatic to hear that this is becoming extremely popular. Can you tell me about the extent of his influence in creating the content of the second season?

Jason Michael Paul: We are working on getting the music from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The music from Skyward Sword was written for orchestra. It is definitely going to be his influence on that. We are going to take the existing scores he created and mold them into the series. Nintendo is very ‘hands-on’. Every step of the way, Nintendo is involved; from Miyamoto-san to Aonuma-san to Kondo-san. That is the beauty of this project, and that is what makes it feel more ‘first party’.

Williams: With Nintendo being more ‘hands-on’, it gives the symphony more of a personal touch to the music conveyed to the audience.

Jason Michael Paul: It is everything – the whole experience. It is coming from the creators, and that is why it is such an authentic experience.

Williams: Would you say that is what differentiates this series from other video game concerts?

Jason Michael Paul: Definitely. For a company as big as Nintendo, what is remarkable is they do have a great need to be involved in every aspect of the business. They do a great job of that.

Williams: Are you a Legend of Zelda fan? Have you had a chance to play all the games?

Jason Michael Paul: I have the fortunate pleasure of being a Legend of Zelda fan, but I am also a Nintendo fan and have been since day one – back to the NES days.

Williams: Do you have a favorite game?

Jason Michael Paul: Of course – I like The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, which is coming out on Wii-U and is also very exciting. I also like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. My thing about Skyward Sword – even though it was a great game, I liked it because I was part of it. We created the orchestral CD that came as part of the bundle. That was truly an honor and something I will always hold dear to my heart. That was one of the highlights of my career.

Williams: I know audience members really wanted an orchestral CD for The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. I don’t think there was one to sell during the first season. Do you all plan on selling that during the second season

Jason Michael Paul: We will see.

Williams: I hope to hear some good news. Thank you very much for the interview, Jason!

Jason Michael Paul: My pleasure!

About the author /

Matthew, a graduate from Texas Christian University, now works as a Senior Digital Analytics Consultant for Ernst & Young. With a passion for video games (mostly retro and survival horror) and data, Matthew is pursuing a career in game analytics.

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