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, September 9, 2013

VIDEO GAMES LIVE: The inside scoop!

Warning: hard-core video game music fans only.  This thing is LONG!

Get your tickets to the Dublin International Game Music Festival
April 2-4th, 2015

and see Eimear and Tommy together again in a three day celebration of Video Game Music

You can also buy his new CD, "Video Games Live Level 3" through this link:

Tommy Tallarico may as well have asked 'Do you want to be a rockstar for a day?' because that's what it felt like for this classic orchestral geek to be on stage for Video Games Live in Irvine and at Comic Con this past July.

Not your usual orchestral concert...

For those who don't know, Tommy is a multi-hyphanite/multi-hyphanite.  In addition to being a game and media composer himself, he's a mad creative genius who loves to have a good time and share great video game music.

Tommy at Video Games Live (VGL)
He was told he was completely mad when, in 2002, his excessively fertile brain came up with the never-before-seen concept of an orchestral concert dedicated to video game scores.  What followed was inevitable, knowing Tommy as I do now:  The genus of his ideas comes from the pure joy of creativity and the possibility of sharing something life-enhancing and spectacular with others.  It lights him up from within, and is obvious and sublimely contagious to anyone who has seen him perform.
Well, let's just say, the nay-sayers at the time were many and vocal, and Tommy's reaction...  

'Ok then, thanks for your opinions, now let's book the Hollywood Bowl! 

The first concert with the LA Philharmonic was a roaring success and spawned an entirely new genre of concert experience, bringing live orchestral performance to an audience that may never have experienced the power of such a musical force.

And it was thus that Tommy's little idea became part of music history.

Not everyone gets to create their own concert genre, but the lesson from Tommy is to let your excitement and passion guide, energize and fortify you;  let the sound of your own creative voice drown out the nay-sayers and obstacle makers.


And so it was that after a couple of years of trying to get our schedules to align, the perfect moment arose for me to make a couple of guest appearances at VGL, for two very special editions of the show.

Rehearsing with the Pacific Symphony, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
The first concert in Irvine was a Blizzard-centric program, and I was to conduct one of the cues from the BAFTA nominated score to Diablo III, for which I had the great pleasure of conducting the original recording (reminder to self: must do a blog entry on that ultimate scoring adventure).

Most importantly, Tommy, and one of my dearest friends, Blizzard's Audio Director/Principal Composer Russell Brower, had set the stage, so to speak, so that the entire Blizzard music team got to represent World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo at this particular VGL concert.

Eímear and Blizzard Audio Chief, and Principle Composer
Russell Brower

Russell on the podium

All of my favorite Blizzard-music-family members were there:  Russell, Neal Acree, Glen Stafford, Derek Duke and Jason Hayes.  It was such an emotional experience to watch and hear some of my favorite beings perform each other's music.  During rehearsal, and back stage, we reminisced about the original recordings and anecdotes that go back years together.  It's a very rare occasion that we all get to be in the same space at the same time.

Jason Hayes and Derek Duke
Neal Acre, Rockin Out, while Derek Duke
Conducts the Pacific Symphony.

 It was actually the first time I'd ever heard, performed live, some of the very orchestrations that I had worked on for Jason Hayes' original WOW score.  This instantly transported me back in time to - ahem ahem - years ago - when we actually worked on it.  It was also very moving for me to see Jason perform it.

Eímear and Jason Hayes
Jason Hayes on the Podium
The orchestra for VGL in Irvine was The Pacific Symphony, with whom I'd had the pleasure of recording the original score for Diablo III.  The piece I performed was the concert version of Russell Brower's "Leah".  I had actually commissioned/nagged Russell to write an extended version of this, one of my favorites of his compositions, to perform on stage at Segerstrom Hall with the PSO last April.

Eímear Conducting Russell Brower's "Leah."
There's nothing like performing the music of a dear friend with an orchestra I have come to know and appreciate so well.

Aside from this epic display of all things Blizzard, we all got to celebrate with our colleague Austin Wintory, the stunning success of his score for "Journey."  This beautiful piece of work was actually nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.  Of course, it's incalculably important to all of us that VG Music gets recognized in such a prestigious way, so backstage the atmosphere was jubilant and congratulatory.

Austin Wintory, Rehearsing His Score from "Journey"

Speaking of backstage:

There is another facet to VGL that is uniquely impressive in that it's a family business full of heart, inclusiveness and generosity of spirit.   These are the attributes that gives every show a backstage atmosphere that's like none other I've experienced - something spun out of a contagious good-naturedness, where each member of the team is passionate about the sho, their role in it and completely respectful of the orchestral/choral musicians and performers.

Aside from Tommy's family and friends supportively milling about, his brother Mike Tallarico is an integral and vital part of operations.  Then there's the long-standing chosen family of Cesar Solorio (stage), Mike Runice (video) and Matt Yelton (audio).  

Cesar Solorio with one of Tommy's Custom Guitars

Cesar Solorio with one of Tommy's Custom Guitars
Sitting down to a pre-concert dinner, nay banquet, with the guys was like being welcomed into their family home, taking your shoes off and simply doing your thing.  Plus, my dressing room was right next to gorgeous vocalist Jill Aversa whose warm-up exercises coming through the walls set the tone for what I knew was to be a great night.

Singer Jill Adversa and my Stepdaughter, Aspiring singer Madz
One of the greatest pleasures of my experiences with VGL was in meeting the show's acclaimed conductor/composer Emmanuel Fratianni and conspiratorially laugh/cringing through two careers worth of live performance war stories together!  I think we lost count of battle scars but the anecdotes were hilariously terrifying in their re-living and sharing.  

It was akin to two safety-net-averse tight-rope walkers sitting at a bar, limbs in plater casts, drunkenly comparing breakages... ouch!  

Aside from his obvious talents as both conductor and composer, Emmanuel is simply the classiest of old-fashioned musical gentlemen, instantly setting everyone at ease in rehearsal from soloists to orchestra, choir and guest conductor/composers.

VGL Conductor Emmanuel Fratiani and Tommy,
With the Pacific Symphony
So, that was Irvine, and now for the afore-mentioned record-breaking/history-making bit:

A couple of days later we traveled to San Diego for SDCC for a very special VGL - the Comic Con Edition.  For this show I conducted another of Russell's pieces from Diablo III - "And the Heavens Shall Tremble" (I always hear that title in Tyrael's booming baritone voice in my head...).

This performance was going to be special, as we all knew it would be broadcast over TV and was projected to be the most watched live video game music concert ever.

The Amazon/Twitch stream was viewed by over 330,000 people live on the night of the show!  
Since then over a million people have viewed it.  You can watch it in it's entirety HERE:  

The Live Feed on Amazon

It also trended at #2 on Twitter and #1 that day was SDCC itself!

So with all of this creation of new genres, making of history and breaking of records, what could possibly be left for Tommy and VGL to actually accomplish? 

Well, in true Tallarico style, don't pause on that thought for too long or you'll have already missed it:  

The greatest video game music kickstarter campaign ever!

The nay-sayers from 2002 are still sitting in the dark somewhere rubbing their chins in complete befuddlement!

Here are a few more of the pictures we got from the shows:

Eimear Rehearsing

Eimear Rehearsing
Neal Acre, Conducting the Pacific Symphony

Jason Hayes, Cueing the Brass.
Eimear Conducting Leah

Leah, from Diablo III

Tommy's Guitars

Ms. Madz favorite, 
Jereme Soule's "Dragonborn Theme,"
from "Skyrim"

Photos by Craig Stuart Garfinkle

Monday, September 2, 2013

Eímear Noone, "Hibernian"

My debut release, "Hibernian" is a small, but personally meaningful sampling of pieces from some of the projects I've scored over the years.

Photo by Carlos Gauna


For me, it has always been orchestral music that could transport me to unreachable otherworlds, and lift my mind to the greatest heights of imagination.  Flying is my fanciful recreation of that feeling that has overcome my sensibilities when gripped by the work of others.

From a technical point of view, it never ceases to amaze me how pillars built of trombone chords can support and strengthen the soaring canopy of a string melody.  It's one of those glorious auditory illusions that orchestration can create so well.


Named for the gem of an Irish Film Board short for which it was written, this piece - especially its instrumentation - was directly inspired by the visual aesthetic and devastating emotional landscape created by Irish filmmaker, JJ Harrington.

The colors on screen are almost monochrome, cold, bleak and austere, which all serve to heighten the impact of a simple pair of red wollen mittens once belonging to a child long since lost.
Colder refers not just to the pathetic fallacy that is the blizzard in which this beautiful film is set, but the frigid and worsening relationship of two people, two parents, who have lost the warmth and light from their lives.

Viola da Gamba - Denise Briese
Cello, Alto Recorder - Kevan Torfeh


One of my favorite places on the planet is Renvyle, Co. Galway, in the heart of Connemara. It's a wild, untainted and sometimes unpredictable place, where poets and philosophers such as W.B. Yeats and St. John Gogharty went for inspiration and from whence thousands of starving locals wearily set out for the new world. You can feel the history in the landscape as it holds onto the loneliness of those who bade farewell to their loved ones forever. There's an old signpost there that says "next parish, New York" and looking out across the wild and unwelcoming Atlantic Ocean, New York feels like another world.


Jig Phadraic is a collaboration with composer/arranger Craig Stuart Garfinkle - who produced all four tracks - and legendary pianist Mike Lang, featuring kindred spirit Eric Rigler on uileann pipes.  The theme is one I composed for my dad, Padraic Noone at the age of 15 and designed it such that it can be arranged as a fast jig or a slow lament - as in this arrangement. Sadly, we lost my dad in 2010 to that insidious enemy, cancer.

Mike Lang is one of the most recorded pianists on the planet right now and certainly my favorite no matter what genre he happens to turn his hand to.  Mike has played with absolutely EVERYONE.  That's him on "Unforgettable" with Natalie Cole;  the "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs" Frasier theme;  the Simpsons theme.  He's the pianist on the score for "Big" starring Tom Hanks and just to keep equilibrium with the two big Hollywood Toms, his playing is all over "Oblivion" starring Tom Cruise.

Eimear and Mike - Photo by Carlos Gauna

I'm going to leave out most of his biggest accolades but suffice it to say, he's the pianist's pianist and the proof of that pudding is in the fact that he's worked with people like that other piano player, Ray Charles and the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, John Lennon and Aretha Franklin..!

I have learned so much just by listening to Mike, and some of LA's finest jazz musicians, play at Catalina Jazz Club on Sunset.  He has singlehandedly changed the way I HEAR the piano!  His tone is singular and his turn of phrase is all uniquely Mike which is why I can write just a single line and imagine every single note in turn filling up the sonic space under his fingers.

Mike's signature sound is such that I can't count the number of times I've heard a movie score and said, 'hey, that's Mike!' The opening of Jig Phadraic takes the risk of being so simple and yet, knowing the artist that would play it, I knew to trust and let a genius do his thing.

Eimear and Mike backstage after the first emotional performance of Jig Phadraic
Photo by Carlos Gauna

There is another reason that the only choice for Jig Phadraic was Mike Lang:  He knew my dad and they shared a full-bodied, unsuppressable joie de vivre that was an utter joy - albeit slightly dangerous (!) - to watch. Mike gave the piece its poignant premier at "This is Ireland", a show Craig and I produced on St. Patrick's Day 2011 at Royce Hall, LA in honor of my father, Padraic (or in English, Patrick).

The haunting uileann pipes are artfully played by Eric Rigler, an artist you'll have heard on both the scores to Braveheart and Titanic. Eric also has a tie to my dad. Mere weeks before our wedding in 2008 we discovered that my father's cancer was terminal.  His excitement over the wedding and having 80 of our beloved Irish family and friends over to Malibu from Ireland had been electric and indefatigable.  In my utter grief I composed our wedding march entitled "Athar agus a hIníon" - a father an his daughter. 

The piece began with a long regal solo on the uileann pipes - crafted by Eric - later accompanied by soprano solo and chamber orchestra, played by members of our LA music family and conducted by my dear friend Mark Watters.  Only the most musical of souls would do. I waited until we had begun our ascent up the isle to tell him I had written it for him.