Oscars to Feature Female Orchestra Conductor for the First Time

Irish-born composer-conductor Eímear Noone will run excerpts from the five nominated scores.

A woman will be running at the Oscars for the first time on Sunday, Feb. 9, the Academy announced today.

Irish-born composer-conductor Eímear Noone will run excerpts from the five nominated scores. She’s the first female to lead the orchestra in the background of the awards, the Academy said.

Oscars to Feature Female Orchestra Conductor
Oscars to Feature Female Orchestra Conductor

Details beyond that are sketchy, sources suggested. It isn’t clear whether all five topics will be presented as a medley or individually, or if the 42-piece Oscar orchestra will be onstage in the Dolby Theatre or at the pit.

Reached this morning in Dublin, Noone tells Variety: “The terrific manufacturers at the Oscars determined that they would love to finally find a female presence on the podium after all these years.”

She commended Oscar musical director Rickey Minor as”a remarkable kindred soul who endeavours to elevate musicians and music at every possible turn.”

Minor is expected to run the remainder of the show, as he did throughout his first Oscar gig this past year. “[How] generous he is, to hand over this incredibly poignant moment, as these [composers] are my heroes and she-roes, who’ll be sitting in the crowd, whose songs I get to translate,” Noone adds.

Asked if, despite her long experience leading orchestras, she’ll find running the Oscars a nerve-wracking encounter, she responds:”I would be dead inside if I did not have any concerns. Fortunately for me, I have friends in the orchestra and I have friends on the page facing me. The backdrop changes, but the tiny black dots on the page are always home for me. Regardless of what country I am in or what concert hall, it does not matter — the score is where my thoughts and my heart are.”

Noone, who along with her husband, composer-producer Craig Stuart Garfinkle, divides her time between homes in Dublin and California, conducts 40 to 50 concerts annually around the world. She has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, National Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic of London and the Sydney Symphony in Australia, among others.

She was the first woman to run at Dublin’s National Concert Hall, and for four years she ran the Dublin City Concert Orchestra, an ensemble she set in 21 for the execution of movie music. A frequent conductor of Video Games Live, she’s widely regarded as the world’s premier conductor of video game scores.

“It is an honour to be there, to help normalize something that I do daily,” she notes. “Little girls everywhere will see that and say,’ I believe I will do that.’ That is what we want.”

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