Kevin Zakresky's passion for music has come into collision with another art form, the video game.
In the Legend of Zelda gaming universe, the hero, Link, grows from a young protege into an epic hero. Zakresky has taken a similar path, as a promising apprentice who has climbed to alpine heights in the realms of opera singing and symphony conducting. He wields his baton like Link swashbuckles with a cartoon sword.
Zakresky was called to a quest and he has carried out his duties. As Link is always on the path to rescue Princess Zelda in the fictional land of Hyrule, Zakresky is always on the path to draw evocative music out of an orchestra and uplift an audience. He has done this as the former artistic director of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra.
He is currently the conductor for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Pacifica Singers, the Sea To Sky Symphony and he teaches at the Vancouver Symphony School Of Music. He has been a recent guest conductor with the St. Louis Symphony, Sudbury Symphony, West Coast Symphony and other orchestras and choral ensembles.
He vanquished all obstacles as one of the conductors on the international tour of Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses under the watch of master conductor Amy Andersson.
This orchestral event performs the music of the video game franchise along with large screens of simultaneous Zelda imagery.
Zakresky has intermittently been on tour with the Zelda show since April. The Citizen checked in with him about the experience. He sent Citizen readers this Christmas postcard from Hyrule:
Dear friends, it has been far too long since we have seen each other so I wanted to write and give you a quick update on my recent adventures.
In 2015, I joined a touring orchestral show that performs the score from the video game Legends of Zelda. This multimedia production, with massive orchestra and big-screen projections, allows audiences to see their favourite video game scenes accompanied by a live symphony. Our venues are usually sold out and it is not uncommon for fans to keep coming back to the show two or three more times.
Since I am not a video game player myself, I had no idea that the score would be so wonderful. Much like film music of the fantasy genre, the soundtrack of Zelda has sweeping melodies, folksy rhythms and plenty of lush Romantic harmonies. With its Wagnerian orchestration (multiple harps, six horns, eight percussionists, etc.), the production is almost the biggest show I have ever conducted. (Nothing could ever be bigger than our recent PGSO Carmina Burana!)
Zelda has a relatively small touring group, just a few producers and one conductor. Rather than touring with a set orchestra, we perform with whatever orchestra lives in that city. We usually arrive at the venue on the morning of the show, rehearse the orchestra and choir in the afternoon and put on the show in the evening - then back home the next morning.
So far, I have performed the piece in London, Columbus, Charlottesville, Miami, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Quebec City, Fresno, San Antonio and Montreal.
Montreal was an incredible experience. Standing on the stage of a packed Place des Arts with some of the musicians of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montral and the Orchestre Mtropolitain was a thrill. Not only were the musicians fine players, but they were incredibly kind and generous too. I really felt like I was part of the team.
Philadelphia was also unforgettable. Their gigantic outdoor amphitheater was situated in a park, seating 4,000 under the roof with space for many more out on the lawn. This is the first time I have ever seen what it's like to be a rock star - thousands of fans shouting for an encore!
But the most exciting so far was conducting the piece with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London's Wembley Arena. Besides the privilege of working with some of the world's top musicians, the venue itself is so legendary. It was amazing to see pictures of all the people who had used the dressing room before me! I texted my mom: "Paul McCartney sat on this couch!"
Wishing you all the best during this holiday season!
-- Kevin Zakresky