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Ken Davies, composer
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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 leader
  • Celebrate a special event with a new work for a dedication of a new facility, for a wedding, or even your child's recital
  • 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, a 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 parts 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 listeners.
  • 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, choir, etc.)
  • 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 the most important are 1)  the duration of the work, 2) the number of performers involved, and 3) the deadline.
  • Budgets and fees can sometimes be creative and flexible. 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 adequate budget.
  • Patrons may be found who would happily support a commission.
  • Businesses may support the commission as a form of public 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 or more co-patrons, each sharing in the cost while each enjoys published name credit and a dedicated premiere in their own hometown.
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