Photo courtesy of Top Dollar PR
Hit play below to listen to our bonus Arts Alive interview with Inon Zur.
The world of composer Inon Zur is expansive and ever growing. Through his composer’s pen, we have trained to be an elite warrior in Star Trek: Klingon Academy, visited mysterious cities to the north in the Syberia franchise, fought off the Darkspawn as a member of the Grey Wardens in Dragon Age, and learned that war never changes in Fallout. His music is grand in scope, cinematic, at times dark and mysterious, and other times smiling with a wry sense of humor.
I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Inon on the eve of his album release. Collected from songs he composed during sessions for Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, Into the Storm is his first album for the Sony Masterworks label and was over four years in the making. We dove into the inspiration for the album, his beginnings in the ever-expanding world of video game music, and where he first felt the spark of classical music and composing.
Inon grew up in Israel and started playing piano when he was very young. His piano teacher encouraged his creative spirit, letting him compose original melodies which she then collected into a book of music for children to study.
He moved into composing for television. For those of you of a certain age (such as me), you may have first heard his work on shows such as Power Rangers: Turbo and BeetleBorgs. However, a phone call in 1996 would change his trajectory forever. The call was from Bob Rice, asking him if he would be interested in writing for games. At first, Inon turned the opportunity down, wanting to focus on more symphonic works. But Rice was persistent, saying that this game would be just what Inon wanted. He took on the project of scoring Interplay’s Star Trek: Klingon Academy, which included an opera in Klingon. From there, he never looked back.
From there, he moved on to franchises such Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia, the Syberia franchise from Belgian comic artist Benoit Sokal, and Everquest. In between all of that, he also composed the score for Fallout: Tactics, the third entry in the blockbuster Fallout video game franchise.
Inon experimented with using unconventional instruments for his Fallout scores, reflecting the destroyed landscape of the world. He really sought to create a sound that would be native to an orchestra of that world – if such an orchestra existed. Because the universe of the franchise takes place in the post-apocalyptic world of a nuclear war in the 1950s, Inon had to invent a whole new musical sound. He took the idea of deconstructing instruments, changing how they are played, and even playing objects like a garden chair as if they were musical instruments.
So one would think that going back to the world of fantasy and magic when he took on the music for BioWare’s Dragon Age would be a challenge after spending so much time in the destroyed landscape of Fallout. Inon says not at all. Having previously scored games like Everquest and The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, he was able to draw on those high fantasy inspirations and darken them for the brutality of the Dragon Age universe.
This has led Inon to his latest project – Into the Storm – a collection of music that excites him. It is made up of songs and instrumental tracks that were either composed for or inspired by his work on the Dragon Age franchise. On it, he collaborates with several talented musicians including cellist Tina Guo and violinist Caroline Campbell, and vocalists such as Aeralie Brighton and Mimi Page.
My personal favorite track on the album is “Firedance,” a song that Inon says was mostly inspired by Israeli, Middle Eastern, and Russian music.
Never one to slow down, Inon has many exciting new projects on the horizon. I, for one, am excited for what’s in store.
Jennifer Miller with Inon Zur
You can learn more about the album and get a copy for yourself at inonzur.com.