LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 4, 2016) — Gamers and symphony aficionados may not be a natural pairing, but a tour based on one of the most popular and beloved video game series of all time, "Legend of Zelda," aims to prove naysayers wrong. Next week, as the North American tour comes to the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, University of Kentucky arts administration graduate student Nathan Williams will lend his musical talents to the journey.
“The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” features live orchestral performances of theme music from Nintendo’s "The Legend of Zelda" franchise accompanied by a giant screen showing the most memorable moments of the series. Concertgoers will hear their favorite game music timed with an orchestral score approved by franchise composer Koji Kondo. The four-movement symphony recounts over 30 years of music and classic storylines from "Ocarina of Time," "The Wind Waker," "Twilight Princess," "A Link to the Past," "Link's Awakening" and more.
"The symphony consists of a full orchestra and choir. This will be a symphonic experience like no other," said Williams, who has been practicing for the Nov. 10 performance in Louisville for three months now.
"Legend of Zelda: Symphony of Goddesses" promotional video.
The opportunity to play in this high profile multimedia concert tour came to Williams based on a strong resume of experience he has built over his years at UK, where he earned his bachelor's degrees in arts administration and music performance in 2015.
"The Zelda Symphony actually came to me. The contractor for the Louisville Ballet and the Broadway touring shows that come through Louisville contacted me asking if I was interested. Since soundtrack music is some of the best repertoire, I couldn’t say no," said Williams, who has played with the Louisville Orchestra.
Because of the size of a symphony and the cost of travel, there are only a few musicians who travel as a part of the tour. It also gives professional musicians in the cities the tour visits an amazing opportunity to play. Williams will only perform with the tour on its Louisville stop. The symphony and choir for that particular concert will come together the morning of the show and have one rehearsal as a group before staging the program.
"That’s the life of a professional musician. The music directors hope and trust that you prepare your own music and can come into the first and only rehearsal ready to perform. The rehearsal will serve as an opportunity to combine the orchestra, choir and film to make it one cohesive experience for the audience," noted Williams, who will play the French horn for the symphony.
In addition to his experience playing for Louisville's orchestra, Williams is no stranger to Lexington music venues playing with the UK Wind Symphony, UK Symphony Orchestra (UKSO), Wildcat Marching Band and the Lexington Chamber Orchestra. He also played in UKSO's smaller pit orchestra for UK Opera Theatre's productions of "Les Miserables," "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Tales of Hoffman, "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and more at Singletary Center for the Arts and Lexington Opera House.
Not surprisingly Williams' love of music began at an early age. He started playing the cello in first grade. Once his brother started taking piano lessons, he got jealous and wanted to take them as well. In fifth grade, Williams joined the fifth grade band as a trumpet player. He even sang and rang handbells in the church growing up. However, once Williams' teacher found out he already had such a musical background, she encouraged the young musician to switch to the French horn. A choice Williams has never regretted.
Williams' performance with "Legend of Zelda" in his hometown of Louisville next week is yet another great opportunity this talented graduate student will get to add to his resume, not only musically but also as an arts administrator.
"This show will allow me to have an informal experience related to the process of bringing to fruition a concert that has so many little parts to it. The Zelda Symphony has to coordinate with dozens of concert halls, contract hundreds of musicians, supply all of the musicians with sheet music and MP3 recordings, create the various programs, and create schedules for everyone involved. Although I’m not a part of the administration for this tour, I get to see what goes on behind the scenes and be surrounded by amazing administrators and musicians for an entire day."
Williams hopes "Legend of Zelda" will be rewarding for concertgoers too and maybe introduce some to a form of entertainment they haven't tried yet. "I hope this experience brings in audience members that wouldn’t normally attend a symphony performance. With this unique experience, it allows audience members to relive their childhood as well as get a glimpse at what it’s like to attend a formal symphony concert in an amazing hall."
What's next on the horizon for this graduate student? The 4k for Cancer, where Williams will help raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults biking across America next June.
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