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Academy Awards to Feature First Female Conductor

February 4, 2020

Hollywood’s biggest night is less than a week away. The 92nd Academy Awards will be presented Sunday, Feb. 9, at Los Angeles’s Dolby Theatre and broadcast on ABC and select ways online.

This year’s ceremony features a first on the musical side of things: Eímear Noone will conduct the orchestra, the first woman to do so in Oscars telecast history. The Awards have been around since 1929, but it wasn’t until 1953 that they made it onto the television, four years after the First Primetime Emmy Awards.

Noone is an Irish-born conductor and composer, based in Los Angeles and well-known in the world of video-game music. She’s conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Her work in the film industry has included collaborations with directors Gus Van Sant and Joe Dante and composer Javier Navarrete.

On Sunday, Noone will conduct excerpts from the five movies nominated for Best Original Score; Oscars Music Director Rickey Minor conducts the rest of the ceremony. This year’s nominees include some of the stalwarts in film-scoring — John Williams, Thomas Newman, Randy Newman, and Alexandre Desplat — though, fittingly, more of the focus is on Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, who won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her music to Joker, the first solo woman to win either award.

Peter Feher is an editor at SFCV. He can be reached at [email protected].