Julie Giroux (b. 1961) is a composer in many media who has made her mark especially in the wind band realm. A Massachusetts native who grew up in Arizona and Louisiana, Giroux spent the early part of her career arranging and orchestrating music for film and television, as well as for several pop stars in Los Angeles. Since about 1997, she has focused her creative energies on original compositions. She has found broad interest in her work around the world, and she has been commissioned to write new music by ensembles of all levels. Most of her works are published by Musica Propria.
Giroux wrote Riften Wed in 2013 for Dennis Fisher and the University of North Texas Wind Symphony, which premiered it on October 24, 2013. On her website, she asks that the following program note be read to students before starting work on the piece (links added by me):
Riften is a city in Skyrim located in the expansive world of Elder Scrolls, the fifth installment of an action roleplaying video game saga developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Skyrim is an open world game that by any video game standard is geographically massive and more closely related to an online mmorpg (massive multiplayer online role playing game) than to its console and pc competition.
Skyrim is a beautiful world from mountainous snowy regions to open tundra plains, sea coasts, beaches, thick woods, lakes and hot spring fed swamps. Large cities, villages, forts, ancient ruins, caves, lone houses, sawmills and abandoned shacks dot the atlas. One can spend hours just walking or riding horseback from one side of the continent to the other doing nothing but experiencing its wondrous environment and lore. It is truly a game worthy of total immersion. Oh, and I should mention that it is also a deadly world, torn apart by civil war and dragons who have resurfaced after thousands of years, not to mention the cult of vampires that are also threatening to take over the world.
Riften is a seedy, crime filled and nearly lawless city. Located on a waterfront with skooma addicted dock workers and corrupt guards, it also boasts the headquarters of the Thieve’s Guild. Sadly enough, it is also the location for the world’s orphanage and the Temple of Mara, the place where the good citizens of Skyrim have to go to get married, yourself included.
Weddings in Skyrim are about survival as much as fondness or imagined love. Courtship can be as simple a dialogue as “Are you interested in me? Why yes, are you interested in me? Yes. It’s settled then.” Sometimes the dialogue is more along the lines of “You are smart and strong. I would be lucky to have you. I would walk the path of life beside you ’til the end of time if you will have me.” Although this game feels somewhat like the iron age with magic and dragons, it has a progressive, flourishing society. Bi-racial and/or same sex marriages are a ho-hum norm, a concept our own world fails to achieve.
In Skyrim, if so desired, your spouse can and will fight beside you. They will die for you or with you. For most of them, that death is permanent. You cannot remarry (not without cheating anyway.) What was, is over and there will be no other. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I found the whole situation intriguing and heart wrenching especially if related or injected into real world circumstance. In one instance while playing the game, I emerged from the chapel with my brand new husband only to have him killed later that evening in a vicious full on vampire attack right outside the temple. (Hey! No fair! I knew I should have married a warrior and not a merchant. I restarted the game.) Skyrim weddings are happening in the middle of a world full of violence, disease, war and death. Something Earth is all too familiar with.
Riften Wed is the music for loves and unions, past and present such as this. A love, a wedding, a lifetime shared by two people in the middle of a storm that threatens to tear them apart. Where “’til death do us part” is not only a reality, it’s a given. Where love is a gift worthy of all the joy and pain it demands.
One life, one love, one ending.
This music is for those that are truly “Riften Wed.”
Hear the group that premiered Riften Wed:
Now, see a real, “live” Skyrim wedding!