It wasn’t long ago that
we learned all about Symphonic Legends London, an upcoming symphony taking place in London on July 13th, 2014. Symphonic Legends London, in the same series as past concerts like Final Symphony and Symphonic Legends — Music from Nintendo. We got the chance to ask its Executive Producer, Thomas Böcker, all about the upcoming performance. Read on to see our exclusive interview!
This is only the first of two parts to our exclusive interview on
Symphonic Legends London, so be on the lookout next month for Part Two, where well be talking with the composers who arrange the music to be performed live in this incredible venue.
Zelda Informer: If I’m not mistaken, it’s been ten years since the first performance in the Symphonic Game Music Concerts series. What inspired you to choose The Legend of Zelda as your subject this year?
Thomas: Indeed, in 2003 I produced my first video game music concert in Germany, which marked the very first time for video game music to be performed live by a full orchestra in general, at least outside of Japan. After five annual concerts at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, I started to work together with the WDR (West German Broadcasting) and dedicated my concerts to German composer Chris Huelsbeck (Symphonic Shades 2008), did a tribute to Nobuo Uematsu’s oeuvre (Symphonic Odysseys 2011) and our productions featuring music from Square Enix (Symphonic Fantasies 2009, Final Symphony 2013) and Nintendo (Symphonic Legends 2010) proved to be equally successful.
Music from The Legend of Zelda series has always been an important part of my concerts since the very beginning: Wind Waker even saw its first orchestral performance ever back in 2003! So the reason is quite simple, I am a huge fan of the games since my childhood when I played them together with my younger brother, and I always loved the soundtracks. Now being able to do Symphonic Legends London in its Legend of Zelda edition is a dream coming true.
ZI: Were you at all inspired by the success of Symphony of the Goddesses and the 25th Anniversary Symphony that took place from 2011–2013?
Thomas: As mentioned previously, The Legend of Zelda music has always been a huge part of my life, and back in 2010 we already performed a forty-minute Symphonic Poem of music from the series arranged by my good friend Jonne Valtonen. Another friend of mine, Roger Wanamo also has a long history in working on those soundtracks, so it just was a matter of time until we would decide for a concert dedicated to The Legend of Zelda entirely. Our productions are famous for being innovative, sometimes controversial; in 2009 we introduced our concept of performing four long fantasies instead of short single titles that was common praxis until then, or our latest concert features a symphony in three movements. It was all about the right moment to come up with something exciting to surprise the fans again, that breaks boundaries, and with Symphonic Legends London, this moment is finally here.
ZI: How much involvement has Nintendo had in the project?
Thomas: For every project that Nintendo approves officially, such as Symphonic Legends London, Nintendo must be involved in the whole process. For example, there is no question if the music department will check all scores and will comment on them, it is a requirement, and for us a very welcome requirement, honestly. It is wonderful receiving feedback, and as a matter of a fact Koji Kondo officially stated that he was impressed by Jonne Valtonen’s Symphonic Poem on the music of The Legend of Zelda, and would definitely want to attend a performance of the piece one day. So to answer your question, Nintendo will be involved in the whole process naturally, and thanks to their trust in our work and our long relationship, we will have all needed artistic freedom as usual.
ZI: Past performances in the Symphonic Game Music Concerts series have had CDs recorded and sold to fans who missed the show. Symphonic Legends — Music from Nintendo unfortunately missed that opportunity. Do you have any word yet on whether Zelda fans who won’t be able to make it to London next Summer will be able to pick up a CD of the performance?
Thomas: The decision is not ours—Nintendo has the ultimate say on such topics. There is no question that we would have loved to release our Nintendo tribute on CD, and we would be the first to welcome plans for a recording of Symphonic Legends London in its Zelda edition. It hardly can get better for a video game music concert than having 220+ world-class musicians performing music of The Legend of Zelda in arrangements by Jonne Valtonen and Roger Wanamo. As usual, we will try—but as usual, I cannot promise anything. Experiencing this concert live is the better idea anyway. There is nothing like hearing such a performance in a classical venue together with like-minded people!
ZI: What can fans expect from Symphonic Legends London?
Thomas: Superlatives. Incredible scores arranged by the most experienced team on video game music concerts, performed by one of the best orchestras in the world, supported by a most excellent choir. In short, one of the world’s biggest video game music concerts to date.
People who attended our concerts such as
Symphonic Fantasies or Final Symphony know we are not taking these concerts lightly. We are not here to just simply produce a good Legend of Zelda concert; the goal is presenting the very best symphonic experience of music from the Zelda series.
ZI: Is this year’s performance of Symphonic Legends a one-time deal, or is this concert something you’d hope to perform again in the future?
Thomas: Originally, Symphonic Fantasies in 2009 was meant to be performed once, but then not only the WDR Radio Orchestra presented it, but also the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. While we do not have any plans for Symphonic Legends yet to be presented outside London, I think it could be performed again, theoretically—although I must admit that the requirements are enormous with so many musicians involved, especially at this level of quality; Symphonic Legends London will be tailor-made for the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Chorus and guest artists to be announced at a later point.
ZI: Lastly, I’ve gotta ask… What is your favorite Zelda game and why?
Hard question! I just finished
A Link Between Worlds and loved it, but I always had a special feeling towards Wind Waker. I loved its art style right from start (I know, not everybody felt the same a few years ago…), and when I played through the HD version recently, I was reminded why it has a special part in my heart; it feels so unique, the facial expressions, the art design is absolutely gorgeous. It has a magical setting. I even love sailing just for the fun of it… however, it is hard to name that one favorite Zelda game for me, I also enjoyed Twilight Princess (Midna!) a lot, and the classic Ocarina of Time is certainly one of the best video games ever made—on any platform. Progressive, trend-setting, pure genius.
ZI: Thank you so much for reaching out to us, and thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Thomas: Thank you so much for having me!