1) EIMEAR, YOU HAVE BEEN CONDUCTING AND TOURING EXTENSIVELY WITH Tommy Tallarico’s ‘VIDEO GAMES LIVE’ CONCERT SERIES. CAN YOU PLEASE COMMENT ON THE DEMAND/REACTION OF PEOPLE GLOBALLY REGARDING MEDIA MUSIC?
Live concerts of music for media have exploded over the past decade. I’ve been touring globally in that world for almost seven years and in that time the number of concerts of film/tv/video game music has multiplied exponentially.
Tommy Tallarico has indeed earned his place in music history by creating the first ever touring symphonic VGM show and Video Games Live – in its many incarnations – has been performed almost 450 times! The painstaking work he has done in persuading some very traditional ensembles to take a risk on video game/media music and thus introducing a new audience to the symphonic concert hall, has undeniably helped to open the floodgates for a whole new genre of concert.
In terms of reaction: people get completely swept away by the emotion of the multi-media/multi-sensory experience. The audience reaction/interaction can be utterly electrifying for the performer. I’ve definitely had my own misty-eyed moments on stage: You’d have to be dead inside not to have a wee moment conducting Michael Kamen and Queen’s Highlander score when the choir comes in bellowing the question “Who Wants to Live Forever?”. That memorable experience was conjured for me from the generous creative minds of Diego Navarro and Pedro Merida at Fimucité in Tenerife. The work they’re doing to bring film music to the live stage through very creative programming, preserving/reconstructing historic scores and promoting the work of their contemporaries has been growing in significance and has made an impressive impact on both the public and the film music world over the past eleven years of the festival’s history.
Of course one cannot begin to talk about media music concerts without mentioning Krakow Film Music Festival. The scale of those concerts is almost shocking for a composer who spends most of their time in their studio. The fan-base is carefully cultivated and nurtured by a ground-breaking team and is constantly hungry for more music. New works have been commissioned by the festival from some of the most renowned film composers in the history of the art form, purely for performance in the live arena. I’m delighted that I’ll get to experience the thrill of it first hand this summer, performing as a guest composer/conductor.
2) YOU COME FROM A CLASSICAL BACKGROUND, HOW DO YOUR PEERS RESPOND TO YOU? ARE THEY BEING SNOBBISH AT ALL?
My background is definitely as traditionally Classical as they come, however I’m an insatiable music fan for whom genre and musical judgement are at the same time too abstract and too subjective to matter. Musical elitism is quite a bizarre malady that assumes itself to be culturally and intellectually superior. In boring old reality however, it merely serves to intimidate audiences away from the symphonic concert hall.
I keep telling people ‘music is music – it doesn’t’ have an opinion, it is neither elitist nor populist; it just is’.
My own pre-performance tradition of listening to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” before I go out on stage – whether the program is Stravinsky or Led Zeppelin – puts me in the right, irreverent, rock n’roll frame of mind (actually… Stravinsky would probably have been more of a Metallica guy).
Yes, there’s definitely plenty of musical snobbery out there – a way of thinking that is tiresome and unproductive. Mozart’s opera buffa works would have been considered less than high-brow in its day and is now the scholarly concern of many a musicologist. I’ve read the hissing, spitting comments of Berlioz’ former counterpoint teacher on the latter composer’s apparent failure at achieving modal perfection. Sure, not all music is created equally; some will survive the test of time and some will not. This is as it has ever been, however the cultural significance of a piece will not be decided by its critics.
By the way, if there any self-diagnosed musical snobs out there who want to challenge me to Schenkerian diagrams at dawn, I’d be happy to show up with my own pointless analysis of “Enter Sandman” and drop the nerd mike.
3) WHAT DO MAJOR GAME DEVELOPERS LOOK FOR IN A COMPOSER? ARE HIRING DECISIONS BASED PURELY ON TALENT?
Similar to film and television directors/producers, game developers look for previous credits, talent, reputation, a deep knowledge of the industry, collaborative personality and a meeting of creative minds.
4) SOMEONE ONCE TOLD YOU THAT YOU DON’T HAVE A CHANCE IN THE INDUSTRY BECAUSE YOU WERE ‘YOUNG, IRISH AND FEMALE’. YOU HAVE PROVED THAT PERSON WRONG, HAVEN’T YOU?!!
I always joke about that guy having given me the perfect title for my autobiography…
The only person to whom I have something to prove is myself and I’ll continue to work at that every day for the rest of my life.
5) YOU HAVE MANY ACCOLADES UNDER YOUR BELT, WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
My family: having a fantastic creative collaborator in my husband; the constant accountability in having to analyze my character so that it passes muster with an extraordinary step-daughter; the complete unimpressibility, yet stalwart support of my hard-working Irish mother and the pure spiritual therapy doled out by an overtly loving, goofy four-year-old, keep me honest with myself, creatively alive and emotionally balanced.
Having that kind of support is vital for this composer’s intellectual and creative freedom. It’s saccharin, it’s twee, it’s cliché, sure, but it’s nonetheless true that the family I’ve managed to co-create is my shin¬iest and most untarnishable accolade.