Zelda symphony a… disappointment?

Earlier in the year, I wrote about what an amazing experience I had at The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses in San Francisco, CA. What I failed to realize was, what I experienced in San Francisco wasn’t necessarily anything like what everyone else experienced at the many symphony locations around the world, and my experience last night in San Jose was far below where my expectations were set.

In San Francisco, the Zelda symphony was played at Davies Symphony Hall. One look at the picture below and you can easily see this building was built for elegance and high quality acoustics. The seating was incredibly comfortable, the bar served perfectly mixed beverages in glasses, and the staff was very professional in appearance and attitude. Before the symphony, Zelda tunes could be heard playing throughout the building, and when the symphony started everything inside was seriously silent. No food or drinks were allowed at your seats period, and when music was playing not even people were allowed to walk to their seats. You were held just inside the door (where you could still enjoy the music) until there was applause, at which point you were free to walk back to your seat.

Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. The computer adjustable acrylic panes hanging from the ceiling was part of a 10 million dollar acoustical renovation project in 1992.

Fast forward from the experience at Davies Symphony Hall to the experience in the San Jose Civic Auditorium, and the difference is night and day. The staff downgrades from dressy attire to polo shirts. My Rum and Coke was served as a Rum and Pepsi and handed to me in a plastic cup. Anyone could walk in during the symphony, and with hard floors you could hear people walking (I believe this is called a ‘double whammy’). Eating nachos and soda during the symphony was perfectly acceptable, and re-positioning yourself on your chair sent that familiar vinyl rubbing sound reverberating through the auditorium. Prior to the symphony starting, not once do I recall hearing any Zelda music playing anywhere in the building, which further detracted from the experience I was expecting.

San Jose Civic Auditorium. The hard floors, loud seats, and single armrests between chairs are unfortunate parts of the experience.

To make matters worse, there were audible mistakes during the symphony. Vocals could barely be heard, while wrong notes and sometimes even slight feedback could be heard (I confirmed this with the other people in my party, just to make sure I wasn’t hearing things). The sound quality in general would not have been too much different if they had recorded it and played it through the two giant speaker stacks straight from a CD. This was definitely a symphony experience made to fit inside a concert venue.

Despite the negatives, overall it was still fun. Knowing what I know now, if the Zelda symphony comes around in 2013 I would still recommend to friends and family that they attend one if they have not already, but to anyone located near San Jose or San Francisco I would strongly recommend San Francisco. As for me, I would not return to San Jose for a third time around even if it was free, but I would definitely still pay to go see the one in San Francisco in a heartbeat, and I sincerely hope I get the chance.

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