Commissioning New Music
What is commissioning?
Commissioning music is paying a composer to write an original musical
work for a special event, to honor an individual, to commemorate an
historical event, or to showcase a soloist or ensemble.
Why commission a new work?
- As a patron, you become the significant visionary
responsible for bringing a new musical contribution into your cultural
era and the world
- Your name always appears on a score that is seen
around the world
- Your special event can be made unforgettable with the
excitement of a world premiere
- You can honor a friend, relative, mentor or community
- Celebrate a special event with a new work for a
dedication of a new facility, for a wedding, or even your child's
- You can help create new repertoire for a particular
instrument or genre
- To have an original composition written especially
for you or your ensemble/organization
- To create the opportunity for your musicians to work
with a living composer
- It's fun,
thrilling and rewarding experience; imagine following the development
of a new work of sonic art from a blank space to a finished work -- and
you made it possible!
Why commission me?
Well, let's first assume that you like the way I write music, that my
"style" or "voice" appeals to you and you want to share that with
others. Here are some other reasons:
- I deliver professionally printed bound scores and
with appropriate page turns, often including a realization CD of the
music to assist rehearsal time.
- I take into account both the performers and the
- I'm collaborative and adjustable; I can and do adjust
new pieces to the needs of those involved.
- I honor deadlines so you receive your piece on time.
How does one go about commissioning a new work?
A new work begins with us discussing your ideas. I will need to know:
- the purpose or occasion
- the type of performer (soloist, quartet, orchestra,
- the musical abilities of the performers
- your ideas regarding theme, style or text
- will you want me present at final rehearsals and the
premier to work with your performers, present a workshop or master
class, talk to your audience and/or let the audience meet the composer?
How much does commission a new work cost?
- Commissioning fee vary depending on many factors, but
most important are 1) the duration of the work, 2) the number
performers involved, and 3) the deadline.
- Budgets and fees can sometimes be creative and
Payments are usually in two or three installments depending on written
agreements. An excellent resource is the (now closed) national organization Meet The
Composer guidelines for getting a sense of
the fee range.
How are commissions funded?
- An ensemble or organization's budget might have an
- Patrons may be found who would happily support a
- Businesses may support the commission as a form of
relations and community enrichment. The business would be recognized in
the printed program and perhaps on the stage at the premiere.
- Grants may be awarded from arts organizations and
foundations where the commissioned work is suited to their guidelines.
- Sometimes a commission can be jointly shared by two
co-patrons, each sharing in the cost while each enjoys published name
credit and a dedicated premiere in their own hometown.