Guide to Commissioning
Commissioning a new work is a very exciting process. I write commissions for all kinds of events – celebrations, festivals, anniversaries, dedication of new performing arts facilities, and those in memory of a figure who has left a strong mark on the lives of others. Email me and discuss what you have in mind. Most people are clear about the occasion, dates of the performance, and general length and nature of the work. I can help sort out the other necessary details.
Commissioning rates vary as to the length of the work, instrumentation and voicing, timeline, and method of delivery (by post using pdf copy, or email). Normally, I ask for 50% of the commission fee up front, and 50% on delivery.
For choral works, the text
Relative to text, I feel that the composer must have a strong kinship to the text in order to musically connect. As such, I prefer to choose my own texts. Finding the perfect text (for the occasion) can be quite an involved process for me, and can easily take as much time to find the perfect text as it does to write the work. I normally send the text to the commissioning party before I begin the musical rendering so they are involved and give their “blessing.”
Residency and Attendance at the Premier performance
One of the benefits of a commission for all involved is to be a part of the creation of a new work in the repertory. There are many moving parts to a commission, including the ensemble, director, audience base, and the composer. When all of these come together, it further heightens the experience and makes music even more “living and breathing.” It also allows time for the ensemble to ask questions of the composer and the creation of a new work. This can also be a very attractive part of grant writing or sponsorship of a commission by an arts supporter. If you would like to organize a one or two-day residency with you and your ensemble/attendance at the premier, I ask that you cover the travel and lodging cost as well as a small stipend for the residency. We can factor this into the commission fee and contract.
As the commissioning party, you are entitled to dedicate the work or state the commissioning party on the first page of the score and parts, as well as in all programs and program notes.
The composer retains all copyrights to the work. As the commissioning party, you receive sole performing rights of the work for an allotted time without performance by another ensemble. Of course, you have also your dedication on the music, and can make as many copies of the music as needed for present and future performances with your ensemble. The composer “owns” the work, and will determine to put it on the website and begin promoting sales and performances of the work after the premier takes place.
I am a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and report premiers and all performances of my works.