Music composer Eimear Noone was the first woman to lead the Oscars
If you’ve ever spent a weekend exploring the world of modern video games, then I’m willing to bet a bunch of platinum-plated PlayStation 5s you’ve come across working as a songwriter, conductor, and versatile musical mage. Eímear Noone.
Winged as the Irish Queen of Game Music, the Galway-raised woman has led the way in the industry over the past decade through her expressive and unmistakable work of soundtracks such as multi-million pound franchises such as World Of Warcraft, Overwatch and the Legend of Zelda.
However, while she spent many summers in her youth soaking up the sights and sounds of the arcades while on vacation in Wexford and her family home was furnished with the standard Atari number 2600 which was a staple of most From the childhoods of the 80s, conquering the realm of video games was never an ambition in the beginning.
“No, writing for video games was never planned when I was a teenager,” she begins. “I have a very classic course. Composing music has always been intended and throughout the history of music composers have collaborated with different media and it turns out that one of those media in the 21st century is video games. So I see myself as continuing this tradition.
“I fell into the industry by accident. It was very enriching, very fun and the audience never ceases to amaze me with their generosity. It’s definitely an unexpected path for me – when I was 17, I was writing atonal serial music. “
As technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past 30 years, the gaming industry has also evolved and over the decades it has become more and more immersive and even imaginative. In recent times, the image of culture has also improved.
“People’s perception of gambling has definitely changed over the years. I think people see the positive sides of the game more now. For example, massively multiplayer online games like World Of Warcraft, which I have worked on, bring people from different countries, cultures and religions together in quests and friendships emerge.
“They break down a lot of barriers. Some people with different abilities can also participate fully in this world. I discovered that the human mind loves to play.
In a cruel irony, as the gaming industry flourished during Covid, Eímear and his fellow musicians suffered from the lockdown and were banned from performing. After spending her entire life traveling the world, conducting artists like the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and many more, she suddenly found herself with her wings cut.
“I missed playing so much. Musicians are born, not made. It’s not our job, it’s who we are. Not being with other musicians and not being able to share what you’re doing with the audience was so difficult, ”she says. “We take them elsewhere mentally and emotionally and it was as if our voices had been taken away.”
Meanwhile, Eímear, her husband Craig, and their two young sons left their home in Malibu and returned to his childhood home in Co Galway in an effort to gain some stability as the world began to shake.
“We originally came back to Ireland for six months to make a brilliant animated film called Two By Two Overboard,” says Eímear.
“We came home to see what it would be like to split the year in two between Galway and California, because we love both sides of life. Then we locked ourselves in.
“We decided we weren’t comfortable bringing the kids back to Los Angeles and decided to move east Galway to the beautiful countryside I grew up in.”
Eímear’s main motivation for coming home was to make sure that his children could still love being children.
“The main reason we decided to stay in Galway was for our sons. We wanted to give them stability. They had been through the fires in Malibu before and we were evacuated for six weeks and wanted them to be somewhere they felt safe.
Very quickly, the globetrotting family quickly learned that there really was no place like home.
“We all loved being at home,” Eímear offers. “We moved our production company here, we bought the house next to my mom and our boys are so happy here. You would think the pandemic never happened, which was the goal – to minimize the psychological impact on them.
“Their grandmother is next door, their uncles and cousins are nearby and at school, we all know the parents of the children there because they went to school with me or we bonded with them. , so it’s the opposite of Malibu. It is a rich existence that we are trying to create for them.
And speaking of wealth, a memory worth its weight in gold for Eímear is when she became the first woman to lead at the Oscars in February 2020.
While no stranger to history (Noone, then 22, was also the first woman to conduct at the National Concert Hall in Dublin), step onto the podium at the Academy Awards in front of an audience of hundreds millions of people have seen it level up. , to use the jargon of the games.
Eímear tells me that she takes directing very seriously and has been honored to metaphorically step into a turbo Mario Kart and cross all the barriers in her path.
“The main reason I took the job was visibility,” she says. “I wanted the girls and women watching to think that if she can do it, I can do it.
“I wanted to normalize the work and make sure that being a woman on a podium was not remarkable or rare. I really wanted Irish girls in particular to see this. I was flown to the awards by two Irish women pilots, I was dressed by Claire Garvey, an Irish designer, an aunt did my hair, my other aunt bought my shoes. It was a real team effort on the part of the Irish and it made me proud. “
Although Eímear tells me she wasn’t nervous about her performance, she felt compelled to make her country proud before stepping onto the podium.
“I remember watching Janelle Monáe rehearse and thought this girl was amazing, I can’t let Irish girls look down. I thought about what I would like to see and hear if I was a music-crazed 15-year-old.
“I wanted the girls to see me owning the moment and fully inhabiting this moment. I thought about it a lot.
“The worst thing I could do for these people was be a shrinking purple, apologize. I was given this opportunity and I really felt it wasn’t about me, it was about the performance and what it represented.
“It was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed every second.
On October 23, the Queen of Game Music will give locals a very special royal visit as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival. Taking place at the Grand Opera House, Eímear and the Ulster Orchestra team up to put on a show dubbed Electric Arcade, and the talented sound magician promises those lucky enough to have a ticket will have a spellbinding evening.
“I’m so excited to be able to go on tour again,” she beams.
“Last week I played in Scandinavia and it was the first audience I had in a year and a half. I got out and had a lump in my throat. I had something prepared to say but all I could say was, “I’m so glad to see you!”
“Our Belfast show will be fantastic.
“Basically the performance takes the audience on a tour through the history of video game music. There is rock, orchestral music, synths, choirs … there is even a rock opera based on a Russian folk theme.
“You have to see the show to believe it because it is so different.
“We go from the 80s to the present day. It’s really fun.
“There is some Fortnite stuff, I can conduct some of my favorite music from friends of mine and I also have a song on my husband Craig’s schedule. [Stuart Garfinkle], who is an Emmy-nominated composer and winner of the Hollywood Music In Media award.
“This will be my first time conducting the Ulster Orchestra and I look forward to working with them. I hope I don’t scare them too much with my madness.
Electric Arcade with Eímear Noone and the Ulster Orchestra will take place at the Grand Opera House, Belfast on October 23. Tickets available from www.belfastinternationalartsfestival.com