The Dublin International Game Music Festival

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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.


  1. Thank you so much for choosing to share this insight into your music. I certainly was intensely curious to know where the inspiration and influences for your pieces came from.

    I read a lot and I seldom question where the inspiration for a book comes from. If you read a novel set during the American civil war, you just assume that the author has an interest in history, I guess. However, I find music much more complicated. I feel like music requires more senses and to delve deeper, but I believe that, like any well written book, any well written piece of music does indeed have a story to tell.

    Each one of your songs had opened up a world of images and emotions for me and I was utterly intrigued to find out whether there was any relation at all with the one that had created them.

    After reading your post, I feel like I had come close with ‘Flying’ and ‘Colder’. I had somehow read the story correctly, if you wish. And I even felt childishly pleased with myself because of that!

    The insight into ‘Escape’ has surprised me and intrigued me. And I’m rather keen to go and listen to this piece again with this newfound knowledge to discover how it is going to enrich my listening experience.

    ‘Jig Phadraic’ has felt special since the first time I listened to it, but I had no idea how special this piece is. I love the opening of it. It might be ‘simple’, but it’s far from simplistic. I love the fact that I can play it at the piano myself (just talking about moving fingers around, not the level of quality, of course), and I feel that in this honesty lies the power of the opening to this song. It draws you in and from then onwards you simply don’t want to leave anymore.

    The part of your blog post about ‘Jig Phadraic’ was not easy to read. The fact that today happens to be my father’s birthday made it somehow even harder. I will always admire the pure grace and the truthful beauty of your work, your music and your words, these qualities of yours do come through shining and manage to prevail over the hardship.

    Today, it comes across as surreal to me that the first time I met you it was to ask you to sign a fake chicken. Truth is I am grateful to that chicken, because at the age of 38 or so, I have learned from you a couple of things that nobody had ever taught to me before in life. And I treasure this enormously.

    I listen to Hibernian every day because it makes my world a better place. You must be very proud of it. And thank you very much again for having decided to be here to tell us what lies behind and within four great pieces of music.


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  3. 'Jig Phadraic' will always hold a special place for me too. At my Dad's wake in Dublin in 2013, we had a slideshow of photographs from throughout my Dad's life playing on a loop. Your aunt, Marian, set up the slideshow with 'Jig Phadraic' as the soundtrack. It was pitch perfect. Thank you for composing and all the musicians for playing this wonderfully emotional piece.