Eight years ago, the festival established a composer-in-residence program, designed to highlight young composers from across the country by offering a world premiere of a commissioned work each year. Since then, the festival has presented world premiere commissions from a growing roster of the nation’s best composers. They include Raymond LustigDaniel Thomas DavisClancy NewmanRoger ZareDaniel KelloggChris RogersonAdam SchoenbergJeff Beal, and Avner Dorman.

At the Festival in 2010, an announcement was made of a collaborative venture with the Lexington Philharmonic (LexPhil) whereby in alternate years the selected composer would receive two commissions: one for a chamber piece to be premiered during the Chamber Music Festival and a second piece to be written for the Philharmonic for a world premiere the following season. This arrangement is believed to be unique, as no other two organizations anywhere combine to offer the promise of a joint commission.


Jeff Beal is an American composer of music for film, media, and the concert hall.  With musical beginnings as a jazz trumpeter and recording artist, his works are infused with an understanding of rhythm and spontaneity. Steven Schneider for the New York Times wrote of "the richness of Beal's musical thinking...his compositions often capture the liveliness and unpredictability of the best improvisation.” Beal’s seven solo CDs, including Three GracesContemplations (Triloka) Red Shift (Koch Jazz), and Liberation (Island Records) established him as a respected recording artist and composer. 

Beal’s eclectic music has been singled out with critical acclaim and recognition. His score and theme for Netflix drama, House of Cards, has received three prime time Emmy Award nominations. Regarding his compelling score for the documentary, Blackfish, the late film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Beal’s ability to “invoke many genres; thriller, mystery, melodrama.” Another lauded documentary, The Queen of Versailles, opened the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote that, “scored wittily by composer Jeff Beal, the film glides along on Beal's waltz theme, a theme full of elegance and class and a discordant hint of storm clouds.”