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McNally Smith to Host Video Game Composing Conference April 13–14

Video game scoring has grown in breadth and complexity in the last decade. Today’s gaming music involves highly creative composers, full orchestral pieces and sophisticated compositions that interact with the player’s actions and situation.

To bring this burgeoning world to life for interested composers, the American Composers Forum, in partnership with McNally Smith College of Music and Minnesota Public Radio, is offering an introduction to video game scoring called Game On! An Insider’s Guide to Video Game Scoring on April 13-14 at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota. Click the “Register” button to the right to sign up. (Pricing: $50 for students, $125 for ACF members, $225 for non-members.)

The conference will feature award-winning video game composers Lennie Moore (Star Wars: The Old Republic, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, The Walking Dead Motion Comic) and Jason Graves (Tomb Raider, Dungeon Siege, Dead Space, City of Heroes Going Rogue) and be coordinated by film and video game composer Sean McMahon.  Participants will get a glimpse into video game composition, from conception through realization. The sessions will provide the technical – as well as practical – information needed to launch and sustain a career in the industry. A special feature will include a live performance by Alpine String Quartet of video game scores composed by Lennie Moore and Jason Graves.

“Our main motivation is making sure we’re responding effectively to the dramatic changes in the new music field, and are providing our members with the tools they need to have successful careers–regardless of the genre or style of music they’re writing,” says Craig Carnahan, Vice President of Programs at the American Composers Forum.

Composer Sean McMahon believes video gaming is a young industry. “My gut feeling is that right now could be the golden age of video games, much like the 30s and 40s were for Hollywood films, before television.  Currently, we have Hollywood actors doing voiceovers for gaming and top film composers are writing scores. There is a window of opportunity for composers.”

Game On! An Insider’s Guide to Video Game Scoring is sponsored by the American Composers Forum, McNally Smith College of Music and Minnesota Public Radio. For more information or to register, click here. For questions regarding the conference and registration, please contact Claire Tiller at; or call 651.251.2842.


Jason Graves is an Academy Award-winning (BAFTA) composer who has brought his passion for music to franchises such as Tomb Raider (SQUARE ENIX) and Dead Space (EA). His sophisticated composition style has made his music synonymous with unique, cinematic writing.

Crystal Dynamics entrusted Jason with their innovative reboot of the iconic Tomb Raider franchise, giving him creative freedom to infuse atmosphere, emotion and authenticity to Lara’s original story through his score. The end result combines found sounds, authentic percussion and a truly unique custom instrument interwoven with orchestral themes and textures. Tomb Raider will be released March 5, 2013.

Recently, Jason provided an immersive orchestral score for EA’s highly anticipated Dead Space 3, recorded at Abbey Road Studios and performed by the London Philharmonia. He recorded Resistance: Burning Skies at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville and composed a blues-based score for the film The Cardboard Bernini.

In addition to two BAFTA’s, Jason’s music has been honored with three Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Award (AIAS) nominations, winning “Outstanding Achievement in Audio” for Dead Space. He has received 21 G.A.N.G. nominations and four wins, including “Audio of the Year” for Dead Space and Dead Space 2, “Best Original Theme” nominations for Dead Space 2Star Trek: Legacy and Blazing Angels 2 and “Music of the Year” nominations for Dead Space and King Arthur.

For over 25 years, Lennie Moore has been a proven force as an accomplished composer, orchestrator and arranger of music for video games, film, and television. His credits include Star Wars: The Old Republic (2012 G.A.N.G. award winner, Best Soundtrack Album), Kinect Disneyland Adventures (2012 G.A.N.G. award winner, Best Interactive Score, Best Use of Licensed Music), Halo Combat Evolved 10th AnniversaryThe Walking Dead Motion Comic, Watchmen Motion Comic (2009 G.A.N.G. award winner), Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers, Dirty Harry, Dragonshard, War of the Ring, and Outcast (2000 nominee for Best Music by the AIAS – Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences).

Lennie has also developed and taught Composing for Video Games courses at the USC Thornton School of Music, UCLA Extension, and developed the first accredited degree program for Game Audio and Interactive Media at Pinnacle College.

Sean McMahon has worked in various roles on film scores for major motion pictures including Spider-Man 3 and Dreamgirls, and composed the score for The Grudge 3, produced by Spider-Man director, Sam Raimi. While in Los Angeles, much of his work on film scores was under the direction of prominent Hollywood composer Christopher Young. In addition to Spider-Man 3, McMahon’s work for Young included orchestrations for the film Ghost Rider (on which he can also be heard playing guitar) and the DreamWorks picture The Uninvited. He also worked with successful film composer John Ottman, orchestrating films including Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Invasion.

Since moving to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sean has become the head of Composition and Songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN. Recently, Sean has collaborated with Minneapolis-based video game developers Graveck Interactive on titles such as Jump Dewds!. In addition, Sean has supplied music for Chicago-based game developer, Day 1 Studios.

Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score™, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game composers, now in its third season. At PAX Prime 2012, she moderated a panel of composers including Martin O’Donnell, Jesper Kyd, Sam Hulick, Michael McCann and Inon Zur titled Behind the Music of Blockbuster Video Games. Emily created MPR’s Listening to Learn, a series of podcasts aimed at helping listeners learn more about classical music. She has music degrees from the University of Colorado – Boulder and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.