Musical magic: Talking movie music with pianist Máire Carroll

On Saturday 29th June, pianist Máire Carroll will be bringing her piano along to the Light House Cinema for a one night only musical event, “Reimagining the Movies“. An extensive performer worldwide and a winner of  numerous awards including the 2018 RDS Collins Memorial Prize, 2015 Tilestyle Artist Bursary and the 2012 RDS Music Bursary, Carroll will be performing some of her iconic film scores by some of cinema’s most loved composers alongside a number of guests, along with the premiere of her latest composition specially composed for the evening.

Ahead of her performance on Saturday, Film In Dublin spoke with the musician about the power of music on screen, her work and influences and more.

Film In Dublin: You’ve performed around Europe, in Asia and in North America too, what is it like though performing in front of an Irish audience?

Máire Carroll: It’s always amazing performing for any audience – maybe a bit more special when you know a few more of the faces in the crowd but nonetheless it’s all about sharing music with any audience so that’s what excites me most.

FID: Have you done a performance of this nature before elsewhere, playing classic stuff from the movies? What inspired that approach?

MC: I’m very inspired by performance locations and that is a huge part of the inspiration behind my concert series Hidden Pianos. For this gig at the Lighthouse I wanted to do something a bit different to my series, which tends to deal with more intimate venues, and to share this with a bigger audience. I see this as a great opportunity to offer an audience something classical, contemporary and something from the movies – some of the most moving music has been written for films so this is a brilliant way to highlight this. The Lighthouse is a completely iconic location in Dublin and a perfect place to share this experience with an audience.


FID: It’s great because that cinema is always putting on such diverse programming, and even when you’re waiting to see a normal film there, they’ll have the scores of other movies playing inside the screen.

MC: Exactly. They have a brilliant, creative way of putting on film and building suspense.

FID:  When you’re watching films, as a musician are you ears very tuned in to the score and the soundtrack? If there’s a particularly good composition does it jump out straight away when you’re watching something new?

MC: Yes!! Particularly when it’s a full orchestra and the solos pop out. When an orchestra with a fantastic score is used it jumps out and is always a huge part of the movie and a reason I’ll watch a film again and again. The musical score for Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame is absolutely incredible, it’s one of the less popular ones but if you listen to the orchestra and the score it is absolutely symphonic and so detailed.

FID: Are there any films from the last couple of years that stand out to you in terms of their scores?

MC: The most obvious for me is probably Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi. You can’t go amiss with the likes of Princess Leia’s theme in Star Wars tooThere might be a few surprises on the night in terms of what other instruments might be making a guest appearance on the stage!

FID: We know you’ve got a new composition for this performance, is there any chance you could give hints as to what that’s going to be like?

MC: Let’s say it’s something I’d love to hear in a movie at some point! my last piece CNAG was inspired by 14 Henrietta Street and the skeletons in the building so this definitely has a different vibe. I can tell you that it is a collaboration so it’s not a solo piece this time. Expect the unexpected! I have some amazing musicians joining me on Saturday including soprano Rachel Croash, and Dewi Jones on french horns. There will be a fee more guest appearances as well.

FID: If you were ever to compose the score to a film yourself, is there a particular genre you would like to do something for? Or a director you’d love to work with?

MC: If we’re thinking big here I’d say how about featuring on the next Wonder Woman soundtrack?! I would absolutely love to work with Patty Jenkins, I think she’s doing incredible things and brilliant to see the success of the first movie.

FID: That now famous scene of Wonder Woman going into no-man’s land is another great example of the power of a great score. Do you find with other modern blockbusters though, the Marvels etc, find that as important? Some have called their music more bland but is that just down to personal opinion?

MC: I think it’s very much based on personal opinion and what you’re looking for in a movie. It’s all about taking something at face value for what it is and what it’s trying to do. Some people will love the score and hate the movie and vice versa. That’s what makes something like The Hours truly magically when everything fits like a jigsaw.

FID: Morricone has performed in Dublin a couple of times, Giacchino was here recently, and live accompaniments to films like Jaws or La La Land have always done well locally. Is there one dream film/composer performance like that that you’d love to see in Ireland someday?

MC: Well I’m so thrilled that Philip Glass is coming in October for a residency in Dublin at the Concert Hall. When I was studying in London l went to the Royal Albert Hall to watch Ratatouille live with orchestra and it was fantastic. The kids were enthralled by the orchestra and were just as interested in watching that as they were in the movie. It’s another brilliant way to introduce children to an orchestra and to get to see the instruments up close.

Maybe it’s a bit ambitious but I would love to see the Lord of The Rings trilogy back to back with live orchestra- you’d have to swap out the players they couldn’t play straight for that long but now that would be fun!

FID: Tag team orchestra, sounds like a great concept! You’ll have to suggest that to the Light House.

MC: Exactly! Then they could take a break and watch some of the movie. Sounds like we’re on to something!

Tickets for Reimagining the Movies are available from the Light House Cinema now. 

About Luke Dunne

Luke is a writer, film addict and Dublin native who loves how much there is for film fans in his home county. A former writer for FilmFixx and the Freakin' Awesome Network, he founded Film In Dublin to pursue his dual dreams of writing about film and never sleeping ever again.

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