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

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit was 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 was also responsible for a 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 CarlosRafael 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’s 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.

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