AFIPO interviewed Principal Violist Miriam Hartman and her daughter Noa Beazley, who was recently appointed Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music, about the role music played in their family and in shaping their careers. Read the full interview below!
1) Miriam, how did your career as a musician shape the way you raised Noa in her younger years? Noa, what role did music play in your life as a child?
Miriam: While Noa was growing up I was working seven days a week in the Israel Philharmonic. We lived right across the street from what is now known as the Charles Bronfman Auditorium. In those days it was still the Mann Auditorium. I tried to spend as much time as I could at home, despite my work schedule and all too frequently going on tours around the world. Noa was raised in a home with constant music. My husband, also a musician, would practice the clarinet and my older daughter would play the piano. I played the viola and Noa, who started as a violinist and then became a percussionist, a guitarist, a pianist, and a singer and finally a composer, was very engaged in playing video games at all hours of the day and night. Little did we know that this would give her quite an advantage in music school when she decided to study video game scoring!
Noa: My mom’s not exaggerating when she says that music was around me at all times growing up! Music permeated every aspect of our home, from my parents practicing and talking about the latest in the orchestra to Ayelet, my sister, constantly writing songs on the piano. Though my parents were responsible for making a lot of the musical sounds around the house, I owe my music literacy to Ayelet. We’d watch movies and play games together and she’d always challenge me to see who could remember the most musical themes afterward. This is where my focus on the power of music to tell a story and build worlds started.
2) Noa, how did your mother’s musical background shape your career path and life choices? How do you feel you followed in her footsteps, and how did your paths differ?
Noa: There are definitely similarities between my mother’s path and my own, having both left for another country in our early 20s to pursue a career in music. There’s no doubt that growing up with such an impressive trailblazer – the IPO’s first female string principal! – as a role model has shaped who I am and what I do today. We’re both musicians to our core, but the way we’ve expressed that has certainly differed, with my passion for composition and love of video games leading me down my own path.
3) Noa, you have received a number of noteworthy awards throughout your career. Can you please share with us which award means the most to you, and why?
Noa: Funnily enough, that honor goes to a small departmental award from Berklee’s composition department – the Rick Applin Award for Best Fugue. At the time I was obsessed with writing fugues, fueled by the guidance of my teacher Alla Cohen, who pushed me hard to keep refining my counterpoint. That award felt like the biggest payoff, as though I had scaled the counterpoint mountain and could now move on.
4) Miriam, what are you most proud of in regard to Noa’s career?
Miriam: There were two milestones in Noa’s musical development which made me especially proud of her. Several years ago, Noa was selected to compose a string quartet for a chamber music festival in France. Some time after its premiere at the festival, I asked a few of my colleagues if they would record it with me — you can listen to the recording here. The second milestone is when Noa was commissioned to write a piece in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Jerusalem Symphony. She was invited by Aviya Kopelman, who was organizing the concert and was looking to highlight up-and-coming women composers in the program. I cannot describe the pride I felt watching and listening to this piece being performed to a full house at the Henry Crown Concert Hall in Jerusalem.
5) Noa, can you please share how your career developed and why you originally chose to go into this field, and what is most rewarding about it? Miriam, were you surprised to see Noa pursue a career in music?
Noa: Choosing to go into music for games was a no-brainer for me, since video games have always been present in my life. Video games have enormous potential as a medium to tell stories and immerse the player in new worlds. Music plays such an important role in this, and I find that incredibly exciting. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, I’ve actively worked to build up my career by getting my music out there and building trust with clients. I’m now fortunately in a position where this is consistently leading to exciting new opportunities. I’ve also found a home in the Boston game dev community – I’m a co-organizer of a local organization called Game Audio Boston and have recently returned to Berklee as an Assistant Professor of video game scoring.
Miriam: Noa showed that she was versatile in many areas of music from an early age, and I am not at all surprised that she is a musician. However, the fact that she chose the extremely difficult path of becoming a professional musician, someone who must rely on music in order to support herself, was a surprise. The moment I realized how dedicated she was and is to her craft, my worries subsided somewhat. In this business, what you know is certainly not always enough. In addition to making connections and being in the right place at the right time, you also have to live in the right age to suit your particular talents. Fortunately for Noa, composing for video games is one musical talent which is currently very much in demand!
6) Noa, what is something new and exciting that is currently changing in your industry, that you are most excited about?
Noa: Over the past decade or so, we’ve been seeing a big expansion in what indie games with small teams are capable of doing with the proper funding. Boutique publishers like Devolver Digital, Annapurna and Humble Games have been blazing the way forward in this respect. They’ve released some of the most polished and well-received games of recent years, despite supporting teams in the tens, not in the hundreds as you see in big studios. This part of the industry is doing very exciting things to push the medium in new and experimental directions, and for me, it’s the place to be right now in games.
Photo of Miriam Hartman courtesy of Miri Davidovitz