Composers Geoff Knorr, Griffin Cohen, Michael Curran and Grant Kirkhope have been presented with the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media by IFMCA members Jon Broxton, Craig Lysy and Kaya Savas, for their tremendous work on the latest installment of Sid Meier’s classic Civilization game series, Civilization: Beyond Earth.
This is the first IFMCA win for all four composers; Kirkhope was previously nominated for Best Game Score in 2012 for his score for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The other nominees in the category were Assassin’s Creed: Unity by Chris Tilton and Sarah Schachner, The Banner Saga by Austin Wintory, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 by Óscar Araujo, and World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor by Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Sam Cardon, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti and Eímear Noone.
Civilization: Beyond Earth, developed by Firaxis Games, is a turn-based game in which players build a civilization from the ground up, trying to positively affect their civilization’s cultural, intellectual, and technical sophistication by conducting research, building infrastructure, and in some cases waging war against neighbors. In Beyond Earth – as the title suggests – game play takes place in the future, on different planets in outer space.
To capture vast expanses of space, the exciting battle elements of the game, and to give each planet location a unique identity, the four composers together wrote hours and hours of fully orchestral, lushly orchestrated music, conducted by Andy Brick in the world famous Dvořák Hall at the Rudolfinum in Prague. The score’s main themes follow the player through the game as they build their civilization, altering and adapting to the musical sound palette of each world: the Arid planet, the Lush planet, or the Fungal planet. IFMCA member Jon Broxton described the score as having “gorgeous orchestral textures which represent the journey of humanity, hopeful and expectant; electronic accents which speak to the technology at work in building the futuristic civilizations; and angelic voices which illustrate the sheer scale and magnitude of the cosmos, and the sense of awe and wonderment felt when confronted by its immensity.”
Composer Geoff Knorr is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, having received a BM and MM in Music Composition and BM in Recording Arts and Sciences. While at Peabody, he studied with composers Christopher Theofanidis and Michael Hersch. His credits include working as composer, orchestrator, sound designer, and mixing engineer on many titles, including Civilization V, Civilization V: Gods and Kings, and Civilization V: Brave New World, among others
Griffin Cohen was born and raised in Long Beach, New York, and he was already writing music for indie video-game projects created by his brother Sam before he graduated from Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Computer Music Composition in 2011. In 2010 Cohen was the winner of the Prix d’Ete composition competition for his cello and pre-recorded electronics piece, “As the Universe Unfolds”. Cohen is currently a lead audio designer at Firaxis Games, where he has worked as a sound designer and composer for games such as Civilization V : Brave New World.
Michael Curran is a composer and sound designer who has worked in various media including theater, film and games. Currently, he works at Stardock Entertainment. His work on Civilization V has earned several awards, and has been performed worldwide as part of the PLAY! A Video Game Symphony world tour.
Scottish-born Yorkshire composer Grant Kirkhope studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, and spent a number of years as a successful horn and guitar player with various UK rock bands, most notably Little Angels, before starting his composing career working as an in-house composer for the game development company Rare in 1995. Kirkhope’s classic game scores include titles such as GoldenEye 007, Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark, Viva Piñata (for which he received a BAFTA nomination in 2007), and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Click here to watch “The Composers Speak”, a 10-minute interview with Curran, Kirkhope and Knorr accepting their IFMCA Awards and talking about the score.
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