The Queen’s Gambit Q&A with Carlos Rafael Rivera

Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit is one of 2020’s Hit Series. Not only was the show awarded with Golden Globes for Best Miniseries and Best Actress in a Miniseries, it’s also responsible for the worldwide revival of the game of chess. The show, which is based on the book The Queen’s Gambit, features Beth Harmon, an orphan who has a remarkable talent for chess and grows up in the USA during the 1950’s.

When composer and Emmy winner Carlos Rafael Rivera was asked to compose the soundtrack, the first two things he did was read the book and learn how to play chess. After careful consideration he decided that a miniseries that features the classical game of chess is best accompanied by classical music. The result is a soundtrack with 38 classical music scores, played by both an electronic orchestra, a classical orchestra and Carlos himself, that capture Beth, her drug and alcohol addiction, her emotions and the timeframe. What makes Carlos’ work for The Queen’s Gambit so interesting, is that he doesn’t compose music to suit the scene, he creates music to suit Beth’s emotions and state of mind, creating unexpected nuances. A great example of this is the music that portrays Beth’s drug addiction and the roller coaster of emotions that accompany her. 

During our Q&A the conversation will dive into Carlos’ creative process, how he developed his ideas for the score and how they went from concept to final recording, as well as touching on the ins and outs of composing for film and what makes this line of work different from independent composing.

This panel is available through our brand new platform. Head over to our video platform, click ‘register to watch’ and fill out your details. Did you register on the platform before? Perfect! You can use your initial code as this unlocks all videos on our platform both live and on demand.

If this is your first time tuning in, please complete the registration process. You’ll receive an e-ticket with your personal code. Use this code to unlock all panels both live and on demand. Perfect for when you can’t make the selected time or want to fresh up your memory afterwards.


Carlos Rafael Rivera (composer, US)

Carlos is an Emmy and SCL winning composer, whose career has spanned several genres of the music industry. Carlos was nominated for a Primetime Emmy award, while having received the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL), as well as the Hollywood Music in Media (HMMA), and two International Film Critics Association (IFMCA) Awards. His work for Film and TV includes scores for Godless, for which he received a Primetime Emmy, A Walk Among The Tombstones, Hacks, as well as the upcoming Just Beyond, and La Reina Del Sur 3. He earned a DMA in Composition at USC’s Thornton School of Music, has performed onstage as an opening act for The Who, recorded studio sessions for Island/Def Jam, and Universal Records and had songs featured on feature soundtracks for Crash, Dragonfly, Firefly Lane, Scrubs, MTV, and VH-1.

His work for Visual Media and the Performing Arts can be heard in concert halls and festivals around the world. He was awarded by the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Guitar Foundation of America, BMI, and twice by ASCAP. He has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Miami Symphony Orchestra and was a musical consultant for “Invitation to World Literature,” an educational series funded by the Annenberg Foundation and produced by WGBH. He is a voting member of the Television Academy (EMMYS) and the Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), and a board member of the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL). Carlos is Assistant Professor and Director of the Media Scoring and Production Program at the acclaimed Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

moderator: Tessa Rose Jackson (composer, artist: Someone, NL)

Tessa is a composer, producer, songwriter and artist who releases her own work under the name ‘Someone’. Her passion is storytelling and as a film composer she loves sculpting the musical landscape in which the story takes place. She is a film-lover herself and draws inspiration from the worlds of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Greta Gerwig, Paul Thomas Anderson, Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers (amongst many others). Jackson has been working as a composer in media for eleven years and has created work for global campaigns including Audi, Ikea and Google Nexus. Her music has also been featured in series such as HBO’s ‘New Girl’ and Netflix’s ‘Dear White People’.

As she is a composer as well as a songwriter, one of her more recent adventures has been fusing a film’s score with its soundtrack. This opens a realm of possibilities, allowing Jackson to nestle herself into the film’s team in whichever way works best. Last year, Jackson has been focused on recording a new Someone album, due for release on September 10th 2021. She also wrote and produced three songs for “Mijn Vader Is Een Vliegtuig”, the new feature film by Antoinette Beumer, soundtracked a number of podcasts and worked on multiple commercial campaigns.

Together with her partner-in-crime Darius Timmer, she is in the process of creating the full audio, music and foley for the new animation feature film by the Chinese filmmaker Lei Lei. For more information, please visit: or