Robert Luke Martin

Conductor, Orchestrator, Concert Producer

Nerdgeist Article | August 30, 2019

Another Fantastic Performance By The Irish Video Game Orchestra

Article and photos by David Cromie

Original article can be found on Nerdgeist

If you have been following our exploits recently you will know that over the past few weeks we have been attending con, after con, after con and it was been pretty fun. With TitanCon happening a scant week ago I was looking back on my highlights and one such highlight struck me as something that frankly needs more attention.

On the Friday night of TitanCon me and the rest of the guests where treated to a performance by the Irish Video Game Orchestra and like all other performances this was a truly enjoyable event.

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If you have not heard of The Irish Video Game Orchestra then let me introduce you to these fine folks. Taken directly from their homepage:

“Based out of Belfast, the Irish Video Game Orchestra has stunned audiences throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. Combining the sound of a live orchestra with the sights of video playback and an energising light show, the IVGO presents a show unlike any other.”

When they say show like no other they really mean it.


This is the only Orchestra I know of that encourages audience participation in their show and when I say audience participation I want you all to know that it is not mandatory, plus it is all in good fun.

Robert Luke Martin runs the group with a commanding yet relaxed manner. Where maybe a more traditional orchestra is run like a Navy with Conductor filling in for an Admiral, these talented folk work more like a pirate crew, everyone is there in equal status and everyone is there because they truly love what they do. Love is the key to their success, they love their music, they love their work and it shines through in the meticulous dedication to their incredible craft.

With their latest show they really blew us all away giving us a performance including songs from Skyrim, Chrono Trigger, Undertale, Zelda: Orcharina Of Time, Tetris, Game Of Thrones, A Melody Of Studio Ghibli Songs and of course the Pokemon Theme. Of course there where many more but it would be redundantlisting them, because frankly you need to see the Irish Video Game Orchestra perform. My only disappointment is that they where unable to perform a piece from Final Fantasy VI – but there is always next time.

If you are at Q-Con this weekend be sure to check them out, I guarantee you will enjoy every minute of the evening. 

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Daily 49er Article | April 23rd, 2019

The original article can be found here.

Chloë Agnew’s Performance Brings Celtic Charm to Studio Orchestra

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The Irish singer and the LBSU conductor backing her up on how they translated Celtic Woman and solo staples for a 25-piece student orchestra.

Article by Mark Berman

Going into Saturday night’s concert featuring Irish singer and former Celtic Woman member Chloë Agnew, Long Beach State Studio Orchestra music director/conductor and graduate student Robert Luke Martin had some nerves.

“I’m sitting there thinking, ‘she’s sung with some of the best orchestras in the world,’” he said. “I’ve seen her sing with the Buffalo Philharmonic, then go to the Baltimore Symphony. I hope we can … reach that standard.”

When it comes to Agnew, Martin had about a decade of fandom and personal stakes to work through. In his freshman year of college, he found himself on all female Irish musical ensemble Celtic Woman’s mailing list, where they promoted a new live DVD.

“I saw the first piece and I’m like, ‘Holy shit,’” he said. “Because it’s Irish music, but it’s orchestrated.”

This pushed Martin head-first into the world of traditional Irish music, which led to a move to Belfast and his founding of the Irish Video Game Orchestra. Now about to complete his second master’s degree in instrumental conducting at LBSU, this moment seems to have come full-circle for him.

“I’m trying not to get super schmaltzy about this,” he said. “[But] Chloë Agnew… probably had a major impact on my career direction.”

Meanwhile, Agnew had her own reasons why this particular show mattered so much to her. She spent a decade performing with Celtic Woman covering those traditional tunes and soundtrack hits. In her time since leaving the group to go solo in 2013, songwriting became a much higher priority, as shown on her 2018 EP “The Thing About You.”

A turn toward 2010s pop in production and instrumentation, the EP gave Martin the task of translating a handful of Agnew’s compositions for a 25-piece orchestra at LBSU. Twenty years into her career, she said she considers this new territory.

“I think he’s done wonderful arrangements,” Agnew said. “It’s a really clever fusion.”

Her meeting the Studio Orchestra, comprised mostly of music majors, gave the show a whole new dynamic as well.

“They’re obviously very enthusiastic. They’re all avid music players and listeners and music lovers,” she said. “It’s always really, really refreshing to come into a space like that, where a lot of this music is new to them, so there’s that excitement in the room.”

That excitement came through clearly on stage. For a concert at a college music department, the feeling at the Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall never came off as overly serious, or alienating to those not well-versed in orchestral music. Between songs, Agnew told charming stories about adjusting to life in Los Angeles and gave the audience instructions on how to sing along with her original English-Gaelic hybrid “The Gathering.”

Adding onto the accepting atmosphere, Agnew and Martin stuck to the last couple decades for covers. Highlights included the massive swells of “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt, “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman and Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” the latter complete with Martin holding down the penny whistle while orchestra member Summer Wilson conducted. The energetic high point of the night came with a theatrical rendition of the aptly chosen 1995 Garth Brooks cut “Ireland.”

At one point, after the title track to “The Thing About You,” Agnew found herself wiping away tears.

“Oh my heart, I didn’t expect to get so emotional,” she said from the stage.

The sentimental nature of the performance also came through when she gave her thank you’s at the end.

“There’s a very few generous who are people of their word,” she said of Martin, before explaining how he first proposed the idea of this performance over a year ago.

Reflecting on this show, as the first of its kind for the relatively new Studio Orchestra, Martin plans to make these performances a regular event, even after he graduates this spring.

“This is something that the students will put on their CV’s,” he said. “Like on the resumes, ‘I played with Chloe Agnew from Celtic Woman for one of her shows.’ For someone this age, that’s a huge deal.”

Following the show, the crowd was left with a similarly hopeful feeling for where this could lead.

“Obviously the school puts on good shows and has high-quality musicians all the way around,” said audience member Stephen McNamara. “So, they can do that. They can back established artists and sound good.”