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Image / Editorial

Irish conductor Eimear Noone is first-ever woman to lead orchestra at Oscars

by Jennifer McShane
25th Jan 2020

Galway woman Eimear Noone is to become the first-ever woman to conduct the orchestra at the Oscars. The composer and conductor, who is originally from Galway but divides her time between California and Dublin, said it was “an honour” to be asked to conduct a segment at this Academy Awards  

Noone will conduct excerpts from the five nominated scores. She is the first female to lead the orchestra in the history of the televised awards, the Academy said when the news was announced this week.

Following lessons at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in her schooldays, she went on to get a degree in music at Trinity College Dublin and cofounded Dublin City Concert Orchestra, which she ran for a number of years with her classmate Jillian Saunders.

She moved to Los Angeles in 2004, where her work has grown and expanded to almost 30 projects, including video-game titles and movies, including World of Warcraft: The Warlords of Draenor, Mirrors, the Hole and more. She is considered among the world’s best in terms of video game scores.

Related: The 2020 Oscar nominations have been announced

As well as holding a history-making title at the upcoming Oscars ceremony, Noone was also the first woman to conduct at Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

Speaking on the Ray D’Arcy Show, she explained she had the Academy Awards’ two female producers to thank as well as the show’s musical director Rickey Minor, for trying to “even out the numbers” saying that the statistics for females in the field were so low, “there wasn’t even any data” on it.

“The wonderful producers at the Oscars decided that they would like to finally see a female presence on the podium after all these years,” she also told Variety. The nerves will be there, but the music, as ever, will have her sole attention.

“I’d be dead inside if I didn’t have any concerns. Luckily for me, I have friends in the orchestra and I have friends on the page in front of me. The background changes, but the little black dots on the page are always home for me. No matter what country I’m in or what concert hall, it doesn’t matter – the score is where my mind and my heart are.”

And she hopes that girls and young women will be inspired by the news and want to break into the industry themselves.

“It’s an honour to be there, to help normalise something that I do every day. Little girls everywhere will see this and say, ‘I think I’ll do that.’ That’s what we want.”

The move is a welcome one and a notch in the diversity stakes for the ceremony which has been criticised this year for its virtually #AllWhite nominees, with, once again, no women nominated for a Best Director nod. This is despite a wide range of high-calibre films directed by women released in the last year.

Main photograph: @GoNintendoTweet

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