This week, the San Diego Symphony's concerts will have the same orchestral grandeur of all its presentations. But because they are playing musical scores of two beloved video games, "Final Fantasy" and "The Legend of Zelda," the energy will be a far cry from the usual symphonic performance.
"The audiences at Zelda concerts cosplay, want to have a great time and don't adhere to traditional concert protocol," said Amy Andersson, who Friday will conduct "Zelda," as she did last year. "Their reactions are spontaneous and interactive with the show. This is a huge difference from 'serious' classical concerts and, honestly, much more fun!"
San Diego Symphony presents "Final Symphony: Music from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X" and "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of The Goddesses - Master Quest"
When: 8 p.m. Thursday ("Final Symphony"); 8 p.m., Friday ("Zelda")
Where: Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, 750 B St., downtown
Phone: (619) 235-0804
Tonight, Eckehard Stier will conduct "Final Symphony: Music from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X," featuring pianist Katharina Treutler. In 2013, Stier conducted the "Final Symphony's" world premiere in Germany and has since toured with it internationally.
"Final Symphony" is a reimagining of "Final Fantasy's" music, which was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu. Stier said he realized the potential of these concerts from the first performance.
"I think everybody who attends feels the special vibrations," he said. "No video screens - the focus is on the orchestra and the music. ... It is like a long walk through the rain forest.
"As a conductor of classical music, the 'Final Symphony' concerts are always a big challenge for me. ... I love to see how every new program gets better and better, with new colors and new elements. It is stunning!"
Tonight's performance will be preceded by a 6 p.m. talk by Hironobu Sakaguchi, "Final Fantasy's" creator. He will discuss the origins of the series and the role of music in the game, as well as working with its composers.
Friday's "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of The Goddesses - Master Quest" will be accompanied by visuals from the video game. In addition to the four-movement symphonic work presented last year, the evening will include the recently released "Tri Force Heroes."
Last October, Andersson led more than 70 musicians and a chorus performing a piece from "Zelda" on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert." She responded to the exuberant TV audience with a triumphant fist pump, not the expected behavior of a conductor. She believes the concert fascinates gamers and non-gamers alike.
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"'Zelda' touches on ancient stories, myths and journeys that are told in many cultures," she said. "Universal human themes run through (the music). Because of that, one does not need to be a gamer to recognize the value and beauty of what has been created in this game."
German native Stier recorded "Final Symphony" with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2015.
"People who know the game have certain expectations about what they want to hear and feel," he said. "What they get is definitely different from their expectations - it is more like (a ramping) up of their own world of feelings. The music creates a new dimension.
"I was talking to 'normal' audience members of classical music, and they were all positively surprised about the high quality of the concert. And - to be honest - I'm thinking about using this symphony in one of my 'normal' classical programs!"