Each year, the Freshgrass Foundation several artists to create new music to be premiered at the festival. These premieres have become special and anticipated moments at the festival each year.

Composition Commission

Our flagship annual commission is the Freshgrass Composition Commission, where we ask an artist to create roughly an album’s worth of music that somehow pushes the boundaries of roots music. This premier usually kicks off the festival on Friday night and has become a “must-see” event. Past recipients include Bill Frisell, Sarah Jarosz and Rhiannon Giddens

For FreshGrass 2019, to celebrate Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday, the FreshGrass Foundation commissioned the world-renowned string ensemble Kronos Quartet to create Music for Change: Pete Seeger @ 100, a multi-artist exploration of Seeger’s musical legacy.


Each year, we ask 3-4 artists to compose an original score to a silent film of their choosing, typically 10-15 minutes in length. All of the films and music are premiered live at the festival, usually on Sunday afternoon. These have become standing-room-only events full of beautiful and unexpected musical moments as the artist interprets a completely different art form. Past recipients of the the FreshScores commissions include Aoife O’Donovan, Alison Brown, Maine Minch, Anna & Elizabeth, Leyla McCalla, Dom Flemons, Stephen Wrembel and many others. Aoife’s film and performance can seen below.

FreshGrass 2019 features new scores from rowdy and joyful festival favorites the Mammals and the brilliant indie-pop singer-songwriter Natalie Prass, and Artist-in-Residence Aoife O’Donovan reprises her inventive and touching mini song-cycle soundtrack to As It Is in LifeD.W. Griffith’s 1910 father-daughter classic, which we originally screened in 2016.