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Fan Spotlight: Dean Kopri

Mar 24, 2024

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We're excited to highlight the talent of another Tomb Raider community veteran – composer Dean Kopri. For over a decade, Dean has been creating music inspired by Tomb Raider. Now, he proudly holds the title of an official Tomb Raider composer. 

Dean Kopri is an academically trained musician from Croatia. He works as a tamburitza (Croatian national instrument) teacher in a music school and serves as the conductor of one of Croatia's most successful junior tamburitza orchestras, both locally and internationally. Dean has composed numerous compositions for various ensembles, several of which have been honoured by the Croatian Tamburitza Association. In collaboration with his sister, Dean co-wrote a pop-rock musical titled "Legend of a Rose Town," which premiered in 2015. He also composed the soundtrack for "A Midsummer Night's Dream," produced by Honey-tongued Theatre Productions in London. 

Another significant influence on Dean's musical endeavours is the symphonic metal band Nightwish. He composed music and the script for the musical show "Kiteenarium," performed in Kitee (hometown of Nightwish), Finland, in 2017 as part of Finland's 100th birthday celebrations. From 2014 to 2019, Dean served as the music director of the Kitee International Music and Art Festival in Finland. During that period, Dean performed on piano at the festival and got the opportunity to meet and hang out with the band members. One of Dean's career highlights includes performing a selection of his original Nightwish arrangements for Nightwish's composer, Tuomas Holopainen. 

Dean Kopri with Nightwish

Dean's journey to becoming an official Tomb Raider composer began with his feature as a guest musician on Peter Connelly's Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel Symphony album, where he composed a track titled 'Beyond the Darkness.' 

Jonell Elliott, Dean Kopri and Eric Loren at #TR26 Derby

In the photo: Jonell Elliott (Lara Croft VA), Dean Kopri and Eric Loren (Kurtis Trent VA)

Dean also wrote the score for a short-animated fan film titled Tomb Raider: The Myth of El Hawa. This fan film, written by Murti Schofield and featuring Jonell Elliott as Lara Croft, depicts Lara's adventures in Africa during the period between Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and Angel of Darkness

Tomb Raider: The Myth of El Hawa 

  “Murti Schofield's story and Jasmine Steiner's artwork inspired me so much that even before I started composing the music for the video, it was clear to me that I wanted to create a substantial piece that showcases my love and dedication to the music of Tomb Raider. There's a clear contrast between moments when I'm using a full orchestra, percussion, choir, rich orchestration, and more intimate parts with just a few instruments and voices. Egyptian and African elements are somewhat included in the music, but the whole soundtrack is composed from Lara’s point of view – reflecting her emotions and thoughts rather than painting the locations. I decided not to use original Tomb Raider motifs too often. Why? In the script, Lara lets go of her former life, and I did the same with the music. The whole piece sounds like it is a part of the Tomb Raider universe, but the original motifs appear only when Lara remembers her past life, her home... I think that works well. Also, for a long time, I didn't use real voices in my music. Here, they fit so well. The female singing voice tells the story of Lara becoming El Hawa, the Desert Wind. That voice also represents Lara's path and journey after escaping the Temple of Horus until she meets Von Croy in Paris. 

Being at the premiere of The Myth of El Hawa in Derby at the TR26 event, sitting next to Peter Connelly in the theatre as he gave me thumbs up and tapped my back as a sign of approval, and meeting Jonell Elliott, Eric Loren, Murti Schofield, and the rest of the creative team, was an unforgettable experience.”     

Dean’s hard work eventually led to receiving a call to write the ’End Credits’ theme track for the mobile game Tomb Raider Reloaded, finally earning him the title of an official Tomb Raider composer. 

I Only Play for Sport – end credits theme from Tomb Raider Reloaded  

  "I started composing my Tomb Raider-inspired pieces when I was about 13 years old, had my first live performance of one of them at a concert when I was 17, and uploaded the first one to YouTube back in 2008. If someone told me back then that one day I would be commissioned to compose and record a piece for a Tomb Raider game, I would have never suspected that to be true. I guess years of hard work, various collaborations with artists, TRLE builders, YouTubers and fan-made projects (Nicobass' Dagger of Xian, Titak's Himalayan Mysteries TRLE, Giovanni Lucca's Tomb Raider III HD Remaster to name a few) or projects such as Peter Connelly's Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel Symphony or animated short Tomb Raider: The Myth of El Hawa, and constant improvement of my abilities and knowledge (and equipment, of course) finally paid off.

I was approached by Ed Perkins (previously Director of Mobile Publishing - CDE Entertainment for Tomb Raider Reloaded) who acknowledged he's a big fan of my work and asked "Do you want to become an official Tomb Raider composer?"... naturally my excitement went through the roof! I was presented with the task to write an epic end credits theme in my style with the freedom to use motifs (or a music style) of games ranging from Tomb Raider (1996) to Tomb Raider: Underworld. I was given 2 months to work on it - I had it done in less than 2 weeks. ;) Considering that I was supposed to make an end credits theme, I wasn't restricted by Tomb Raider Reloaded's locations or specific scenes, so I had more freedom. I could make it more fragmented while implementing classic Tomb Raider motifs and personal themes that resemble the music styles of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, Legend, and the rest of the Tomb Raider Reloaded soundtrack. I'm forever grateful to be given this opportunity.” 

More recently, Dean decided to pay tribute to the long-awaited release of the Tomb Raider I-III Remastered in a very special way. 

Humble Abode - Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered inspired

“As Tomb Raider I-III Remastered release day approached, all that excitement nudged me back into my creative mood, which I have been missing lately. First, I collaborated with an artist and a dear friend Inna Vjuzhanina for the 'Wondrous Places' piece. I find Inna's Tomb Raider artwork gorgeous and I'm always returning to it for inspiration. For 'Humble Abode,' I wanted to go for that vibe and chill style. A hybrid piece that has some elements of lo-fi music, but yet again is true to my composing style and arrangements where symphonic orchestra instruments and choir are the main focus. Adding synthetic drums, bass guitar, and different synths and pads was something that I wanted to do for a while. Since the piece is inspired by the Remasters, using the existing/familiar motifs from all three games was a must for me. The piece turned into something that I can imagine playing at the Croft Manor while Lara's resting between her adventures - hence the title. As for the video, I wanted to include people from the community, so I asked for the Croft Manor screenshots. I received many wonderful screenshots and tried my best to include as many as possible. I started making backdrops inspired by Tomb Raider I-III Remastered with some Easter Eggs, and wrapped it all up with some nice yet simple animations. Turned out to be a great celebration of Lara and the fans. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to extend a group 'Thank you' to every person from the community I've ever worked or collaborated with. Every project felt like another step up, and by wrapping it up, I've traded my music for valuable experiences (often friendships). As a result, I've been given wonderful opportunities to share my music in both official and non-official Tomb Raider projects, and even further, composed music for various video games, short films, etc. This means a great deal to me. Another thank you goes out for being featured in this Fan Spotlight and for the acknowledgment of my music. Here's to many more anniversaries, remasters, and Lara's new adventures! (to be inspired by ;)) !!! Cheers!” 

Follow Dean’s work: 

Do you have a series of art or project you’re particularly proud of? Share it with us on social for a chance to be featured in our next spotlight! Twitter/X | Instagram | Facebook | Threads | TikTok   

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