Skip to main content
Latest SFCM News
News Story

SFCM Puts on a Show for Game Developers Conference

The idea for an SFCM-performed medley came from Brian Schmidt, the Game Audio Network Guild director.

April 12, 2024 by Alex Heigl

Nearly 30,000 people showed up in San Francisco for the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March—and it was the first time San Francisco Conservatory of Music faculty Daria Novoliantceva had played a live set of music in years.

Orchestrator/composer Novoliantceva, a cornerstone of SFCM's Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program, was onstage to perform her original medley of video game music with a live band for the Game Audio Network Guild Awards at GDC. Alongside other SFCM faculty—like the Roots, Jazz and American Music department's Assistant Director, Amelie-Anna Hinman—and students like cellist Daniela Gonzales Siu and Cullen Luper (guitar, violin)—Novoliantceva's one-of-a-kind arrangement and performance brought the house down.

Daniela Gonzales Siu

Daniela Gonzales Siu.

"SFCM has a long history of supporting the Game Audio Network Guild, we were thrilled when Brian Schmidt, the director of G.A.N.G., floated the idea of having a student and faculty ensemble play a medley of music from all the games and composers who are up for awards," said Executive Director of the Technology and Applied Composition program at SFCM Steven Horowitz. "Having SFCM students and faculty play at the award ceremony this year is such a fantastic way to highlight the rich diversity of talent not only at the Conservatory, but also in the local Bay Area music scene."

Graduate student Siu added, "It was an amazing experience. I hold a profound appreciation for video game and movie music, and as a cellist, it has always been a goal of mine to collaborate with musicians outside of the world of classical, so participating in the awards ceremony was a unique experience and I am very grateful to have been a part of it."

Novoliantceva transcribed melodies from the Best Original Soundtrack Album category, including games from the Star Wars and Mortal Kombat franchise, and worked them into a single piece of music to be performed by the six-piece ensemble included not just "traditional" sounds but some of the games' sound effects triggered through the Ableton Push, a relatively new interface the company introduced that functions as both an external controller and standalone instrument.

Daria Novoliantceva

Daria Novoliantceva.

The project wouldn't have been possible without TAC faculty Matt Levine, who runs SFCM's twice-yearly Sony Project, in which students spend a semester composing a video game soundtrack of their own, and get it recorded with input from members of Sony's audio department. PlayStation Music Designer Seira McCarthy—an SFCM alum—now teaches at the Conservatory and was on hand to assist with the day-of logistics, which included the lone pre-performance run-through the ensemble had onstage.

"For me, it's important to tell a story with music," Novoliantceva says of her love of video game music. "And video games allow you to do that in a totally different way from film or television composing. It's such a supportive and generous community to be a part of." You can hear more of Novoliantceva's orchestration and conducting in the trailer for the highly-anticipated Death Stranding 2, which she arranged with her team of SFCM graduates and current students: Molly Monahan, Natasha Frank, and Shinae Lee. Given the amount of hype for the sequel from legendary game designer Hideo Kojima as it approaches its 2025 release date, Novoliantceva might have another live performance on the books soon.

Watch video of the performance below, and learn more about SFCM's Technology and Applied Composition program.

Video URL