An Emmy For Your Thoughts: Behind A Big Campus Music Gift By This Alumni Couple

University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music recently received a $2 million gift by alumni couple Jeff and Joan Beal to launch the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media. The institute will support "student internships, scholarships, and projects; instruction; visiting artist residencies; and technology and infrastructure," and will also "enhance the new Jazz and Contemporary Media graduate degree program in convergent artistry focusing on writing scores for film and other applications, such as video games."

The Beals are Eastman School of Music graduates—Beal and Joan graduated from the school in 1985 and 1984, respectively. Beal will also serve as artistic director of the new Beal Institute, which makes perfect sense once you know a little bit more about him. In fact, this kind of gift is right up the couple's alley.

The couple has had an illustrious career in music. Beal scored the 2000 film Pollock, and has composed music for such shows as House of Cards, Monk, The Newsroom and Carnivale. He's been nominated for 15 prime-time Emmys, and has won four. Beal has also released a number of solo CDs and his commissioned concert works have been performed by many leading ensembles, including the St. Louis, Munich, and Detroit symphony orchestras. After Joan graduated from Eastman, also her father's alma mater, her career spanned performances in opera, in concert, and in recording studios. Joan has sung on more than 100 film scores for composers including the legendary John Williams.

It makes sense that a couple with such a rich music career across multiple platforms would back a gift that gives tudents a music education that translates to the current new media marketplace. Add to that the fact that the couple met at Eastman and is giving back to their alma mater—those are especially strong motivations for this music-loving family. As Beal puts it, "Not only is there a need for education in composition across contemporary media platforms, there is a growing trend for orchestras and ensembles to perform this music in the concert hall."

Over in our Glitzy Giving blog, we've been digging into the kind of wealth that our country's top celebrities and entertainers can amass, and how some of that money is directed toward philanthropy. While it's unclear how much the Beals are worth, as successful as they've been in Hollywood and beyond over the years, they've probably made quite a bit. While music gifts at colleges and universities aren't as big as, say, medical gifts, donors with the Beals' kind of background are worth keeping an eye on.