The Dublin International Game Music Festival

The Dublin International Game Music Festival
The iDIG Music Fest - Click on the image to go to our website!

Monday, July 30, 2012


'Philadelphia here I come, right back where I started from..'Aha Mr. Friel, I followed your footsteps on my travels this past week and ended up at the Mann Center in Philly with the fabulous Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

"The Mann" was the utmost in outdoor summer concert chic (it's own fashion genre don't you know) and the staff there treated us like rock stars. Toasting with champagne in the dressing room post-concert - courtesy of Catherine Cahill CEO and the Mann team - was one of those memorable pinch-worthy moments.

Most importantly however was my excitement over the orchestra whose brass section need to be heard to be believed but more about that in later posts...

During our brief time in Philadelphia, the guys on the team all had to experience a "Philly Cheese Steak" which is a type of sick poisonous torture to a celiac like me, but of course I had to tag along to vicariously experience this cultural phenomenon. Suffice it to say that I developed an instant new-found interest in vegetarianism and have never seen such an enormous vat of fluorescent cheeze whiz in my life. I stand vicariously culturally educated - without the indigestion.

I did however find an interesting name beneath my feet on Philly's music walk of fame:

Lepold Stokowski, best known for inspiring a generation of young musicians with Disney's Fantasia and wielding a big stick with a very suspect dodgy Eastern European accent.

However, you know you've made it when you get parodied by Bugs Bunny (I find this utterly hilarious which is tragically uncool):
We played to just shy of 7,000 mad cheering souls at The Mann Center but this is what it looked like earlier in the day - Another Jeron photo classic
Stage at The Mann

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Monday, July 23, 2012


Normally, one would prefer a nice quiet plane ride but there's something infectious about the innocent excitement of kids on the family adventure of a lifetime to Disney World/Universal etc. etc. Some sugar-filled die-hards already had their Mickey ears on - seat-belts: not so much; safety devices just get in the way of jumping up and down on the seats aparently - something that looked intensely exhilarating...

The only cloud on our horizon was the bad weather that hit us in Houston on our short stop-over and there was now a distinct possibility of our being late for rehearsal with The Orlando Philharmonic: not a nice feeling at all.

When we landed, Mark Fisher, principal french horn and personnel manager for the orchestra helped graciously guide our way and we arrived to a friendly and welcoming atmosphere at the rehearsal space. The SOTG team had everything up and running in record time. At this point we have our rehearsal strategy and tech down to a fine art.

The energy in a group is always very obvious to me in the first few minutes of meeting them and I could feel a good rapport amongst these musicians for each other, which they generously extended to us. This is the kind of thing that makes an enormous difference to the conductor, especially when we only have two rehearsals to get to know each other.

The next day we got to meet our chorus - Florida Opera Theater Chorus - under the proud direction of Robin Stamper; and yes, he did have a lot to be proud of, they sounded fantastic with a perfect blend, tight ensemble and great performance discipline.

The audience reception in Orlando was electric - we're now spoiled and have come to expect such an atmosphere from Zelda fans - and the Floridians did not disappoint, in fact I think they're neck and neck with Montreál for the best audience of the tour award. Then again, the Canadians actually sang to us from the auditorium...

At dress rehearsal and after the show I got to meet one of my favorite SOTG fans, Ajay Kundlas.

Ajay takes the time to wish Jeron and I well before every performance no matter what city we're performing in and is the epitome of the passionate but gentle soul that tends to populate our audiences. These are the people that make the schlepp across the continent unquestionably worthwhile. Ajay is also one of an elite group I like to call our "repeat attenders" and has seen the show a few times now. It is for fans like this that we work so hard and for whom I sweat all of my make-up off on stage - anything less would be a comfortably dry-skinned - and therefore passionless - travesty.

Thanks to principal percussionist Carl Rendek and sublime concertmaster Annabelle Gardiner (can I please say "leader" like we do in NW Europe? Concertmistress sounds so loaded and spell check underlines it in red (not underlining "concertmaster" however - hmm... methinks that may need to be remedied for its implied spelling sexism)).

Most memorable moment of our time in Orlando:

Well... there might be more than one actually...

Chad and I decided to see how close cultural clichés are to the truth in an examination of my hard-core Irish-ness as pertaining to flammable liquids. Thank you for that Chad. The answer is 100%...

Secondly there was that moment at the end of rehearsal when a member of the percussion section asked: Do you want us back in for the section we just taceted or do you want us tacet permanently? I went out on a limb with some dark Irish humor and pointed out that "Tacet Permanently" sounded like something you'd read on a musician's gravestone. Thinking that Floridians have too much sunshine for such gallows humor, I was proven gloriously wrong by the peals of laughter that came from the orchestra. Thank God: musicians are musicians no matter what their exposure to vitamin D and sunny wholesomeness.

But most memorably: I got the greatest compliment of my career - in my obtuse opinion - from one of the men of the Florida Opera Theater Chorus, who wryly announced:

'A conductor who wears an AC/DC t-shirt to rehearsal and drops Spinal Tap references... I'm not used to that!'


Thank you Orlando.

All of the photos below were taken by Ajay Kundlas:

Back stage at the Bob Carr Center, Orlando, the legendary Wind Waker in hand

Rehearsing with the Orlando Phil and Florida Opera Theater Chorus
Here's a look behind the curtain

Oh dear... "headphones hair" is not a good look...

post dress rehearsal with an aspiring young percussionist and über fan...

Our friend Ajay with some members of the Zelda team: Exec producer, Jason Michael Paul; creative producer, Jeron Moore and Composer/arranger Chad Seiter

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Comic Con and San Diego Symphony

So I hit Comic Con with the Zelda Symphony team, my trusty assistant Miss Madz and SJB in tow. What a fantastic audience - I've never seen so many Links in one place at the same time, well not during the day-time anyway...

Rehearsals with San Diego Symphony went well - aside from a weather advisory that threatened to rain on our parade - so I felt good about the show before we started. I also got to meet and work with a very special choral group called Sacra/Profana under the superb direction of Krishan Oberoi. As well as working on standard repertoire, they had just shot a video for an arrangement of some Maroon 5's stuff. You can find out more about them here.


HEADS UP!: Mini javelin-like projectile coming your way: The occupational hazards of working in an orchestra with Eímear.

The concert begins and the overture is off to a rousing start. My music-stand isn't big enough for the tall Zelda score so stand lights had been mounted to a second music-stand in front of me. Not accustomed to said wall of music-stands, in the middle of the overture my baton hit the underside of one of the stand lights and well... it "caught some air" (SJB's a surfer so I'm generally bombarded with such "lofty" terminology) catapulting itself into the first violins, narrowly missing the associate concert-master - poor sod. The overture ends and there's the usual enthusiastic response from our beloved Zelda fans.

Before I turn to the audience an impishly smirking associate concert-master hands me back the baton with a grandiose flourish hidden from the audience by his desk-partner. Of course, not being one to keep any drama from our friends in the audience, I took the microphone and proclaimed it to be a great portent from the fates, or simply a sign of good luck, that the conductor throws the baton at the orchestra during the overture. Naturellement?!

Gotta love live performance...

Ooops, was that your head madam?!

Here are some images from rehearsals and performance by my precocious 12 1/2 year old assistant (the 1/2 is terribly important you know) and step-daughter Miss Madz:


Rehearsing at The Embarcadero, summer home to the San Diego Symphony - rehearsing with a crazed mind focused on the potential threat from some ominous looking rain-clouds.
Beautiful harpist's hands on the jumbotron
The prettiest artists' entrance anywhere...
Backstage wasn't too bad either
Getting our act together


Discussions with The Zelda Team pre-rehearsal

The guts of the operation
Finally found my way on stage after Spinal Tap-esque tour of the warren back stage
The view from the stage was pretty decent, oh and the waterfront looked nice too...
On stage with Jeron

Our Fabulous Papparazzo

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Friday, July 20, 2012

A couple of my favorite young Zelda fans:

One of the things I love most about Symphony of the Goddesses is meeting entire families that have come to see the show and in many cases, to see a symphony orchestra for first time. This is our symphonic audience of the future and I feel very strongly that the onus is upon us to create exceptional memories for them so that the orchestra will have a special place in their hearts. I've seen Moms and Dad's in costume with their mini Links and Zeldas in tow... too cute!

Here's one of my favorite Zelda families, Luis Fernando and the Garcia family



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More Houston...

Phew! We've been moving so fast that I haven't had enough time to write about everything.

Firstly I had a fantastic time with the Houston Symphony and Chorus under the fearless leadership of Eric Halen who, aside from flawlessly bringing life to the violin solos in the Symphony of the Goddesses, also told me that way back in his family it's likely that he's related to Eddie and Alex Van Halen...


Also, I had some great conversations with principal bassoonist, Eric Arbiter about LofZ and his passion for Irish literature. He made me feel instantly at home talking about two of my favorite subjects. It turns out he's a bit of a Joycean scholar who has gone to Dublin to take part in the Blooms Day festivities.

Orchestras tend to be a treasure chest of such gems.

Incidentally: I LOVE the fact that Leopold Bloom of Joyce's Ulysses, one of the most famous characters in modern literature, is both Irish and Jewish - a fabulous combination close to my heart.

By night Eric is actually a bassoon-playing Link-tastic superhero as illustrated by his Zelda fanboy son, Daniel Arbiter. Fighting crime, one ostinato at a time:

Houston was utterly fantastic and we got to meet some very special fans after the show:

With Conductor-in-training Matthew Herrera

With Ron Mobido and friend in Austin. Delighted to see the again in Houston



Jeron and I with Ann and Amy Ho. Keep playing piano Amy!

With Meshell and Kasey Moore

Two members of the amazing team that raises money for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through hosting gaming marathons


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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Miss Madz Voice on Assassin's Creed 3 Trailer

The Assassin's Creed 3 - Independence, trailer just came out and it features a little thing I exec produced a couple of years ago with my beautiful - then ten-year-old - step-daughter singing "Amazing Grace". My SJB, composer/producer Craig Stuart Garfinkle wrote the beautiful string accompaniment and produced the track.

Here's the trailer, although Miss Madz is not yet old enough to view it; it's rated 18!

And here's the complete, unedited track.

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Tonight - SOTG#2 in Houston

Last night I met Sean from the Houston chapter of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. He told me that they raise money to save childrens lives by holding marathon gaming sessions. Sean also gave me a keyring cast from the tiny hand of one of the preemie babies they've saved - it went straight to my heart.

Tonight on stage I'm going to wear their pin on my jacket. Thank you to Sean and the brave individuals who work for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Also, thanks to those Legend of Zelda fans who've taken part in gaming marathons that have raised so much money for children.

Here's to Gamers changing the world...

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals balloon pin

Last Night - Symphony of the Goddesses in Houston

We had such a great time on stage last night with a fantastic Houston audience throwing energy at us to put in to our performance. Zelda fans make such a fantastically appreciative audience. I LOVE seeing entire families coming to see the show together. So many parents have told us how amazed they are that their kids want to go to the symphony and so many grown-up Zelda fans tell us that SOTG is their first time to experience the magic of a live orchestra. Thanks to The Houston Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the staff at Jones Hall for treating us so well especially at the meet-and-greet with fans after the show.

Jeron and I with Majora's Masks! Amazing fan creations.
with Jordin and her triforce t-shirt
With Gabriel

with Brian and his fab shirt

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Radio Interview for SOTG

Jeron, Chad and I will be giving interviews to KUHA Classical 91.7FM this evening at around 4:30 or 5:00PM Houston Time.You can listen to it live here:

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This One's For MOM.

Look Mom, I got a REAL JOB!Wish you were here...

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If Socrates Played Trumpet...

Out and about in Houston, Texas I heard a soulful and solitary trumpet reverberating off the glass and steel skyscrapers. The sound led me to "Pops" and his friend Reginald. Pops told me he comes to Main St. every day because his "horn" is too loud for his neighborhood and he just needs to play. I sat down with the guys for a while and talked musical philosophy. We all agreed that it's a musicians duty, nay, responsibility to play; that their gift belongs not to them but to all who hear them.

This is a belief I carry with me on stage every time I walk out there.

You never know who really needs you in those moments. Which member of your audience is grieving or lonely or despondant; which have traveled from violence-torn cities (some Mexican friends I met in Austin who came from the heart/den of the drug cartels); who has returned from war and needs their belief in humanity restored so as to live a normal life (a vet I met in Austin who told me he was sorry to have missed the show in Dallas - beacause he was in IRAQ!).

It is our job to serve our audience... humbly.

Pops, Reginald and I agreed that we were meant to meet today. I needed my faith in humanity restored and in his reaching out with his soul through his instrument, I found real human beauty again.

Also: I loved that he played with a lit cigarette and told me that he'd been playing the horn through fifty years and lost his four front teeth to it! And... Reginald told me I was "One Foxy Lady", which made my day especially since this Irish cailín's only experience of such wildlife would be either in the woods across from our house in Kilconnell or a Jimi Hendrix song.

Thank God for character. Here's presenting "Pops" and his orchestra of one:

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fireworks in Houston

Happy "Fourth" America.

I'm in Houston Texas on the Fourth of July watching the fireworks as backdrop to beautiful Jones Hall, home to the Houston Symphony Orchestra. I'm looking forward to meeting the orchestra tomorrow and hoping beyond all hope that at least a couple of them will show up in cowboy boots and maybe, just maybe... a space-suit? Right, so the narrow-mindedness of that comment practically wills someone in the orchestra to give me a damned impersonation of that damned leprechaun in the "Lucky Charms" advert (FACT: they don't allow those things come to come through customs in Ireland for fear of a national revolt; "revolt" and revulsion being the projected national sentiment).

Anyway, I absolutely love the Houston Symphony's recording of Stravinsky's Le Baisir de la Fée with conductor Hans Graf (particularly beautiful cello solos deserve a mention). God, that piece sounds like Tchaikovsky on some very interesting non-prescription drugs... In fact, it's sounds like the Nut finally Cracked...

Oh dear... a pun.

Anyway, here's Jones Hall, a fine example of indigenous American architecture (especially with the Fourt of July fireworks in the background). It looks like an alien civilization is about to land their ship on the stage (Where's Bill Pulman when you need him?):

So... yesterday I solicited the help of stylist Nikki Holmes in Santa Monica to create some DRAMATIC make-up looks for The Symphony of the Goddesses (For God's sake Lenny Bernstein wore A CAPE on stage and what's a little eye-makeup compared to A CAPE! Ok, so he was a bit of a superhero, we'll give 'im that). I showed her some pictures of VG heroines and of courses the bould Link and his constant conspirator, Princess Zelda. The result turned out a little more "Wicked" than we had intended but here it is:

Ok, was denkst Du? Sure, the blue has got to go in favor of green... for Link and for... IRELAND... but that's a tad un-patriotic in my adopted country considering the day that's in it.
Shur I thought a green card was something the yanks just gave a person as a prize just for the grand honor of being Irish... we're "magically delicious" you know.

Deee-fyy-ing Graaaaavittteeeeeeee