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commissioning

Currently (as of fall 2017) I'm considering commissions for performance in fall 2018 and beyond. It's great to ask sooner rather than later if you're interested in any future projects — informal/vague ideas are fine.

I love working with people to add new pieces to the world! I have a long history of successful commissions; ask for my summary PDF and references.

No-obligation inquiries about possible commissions are welcome. Remember: the earlier, the better. A year or more before the first planned performance is ideal, and half a year is a good minimum. (Shorter notice can work in some cases for a small-scale piece.)

There's a lot to say about the commissioning process; here are a few FAQs.

How much does it cost?

This is by far my most frequently asked commissioning question. An organization called Meet the Composer has a useful PDF describing the industry standards for commissioning new work. I care a lot about maintaining flexibility based on the commissioning group's or individual's resources (also known as a sliding scale). I can also share specific numbers from past commissions, in cases where I have the commissioner's permission (or where the amount was publically announced).

One great possibility is a consortium commission. In this case, everybody wins: several ensembles (or individual performers) in different regions or countries come together to split the cost of a commission, and each then gets to do a regional premiere of the piece. Please let me know if you'd like no-obligation assistance with the process of talking to similar ensembles in other regions who've expressed interest but are lacking the funds to fully support a commission.

What if I don’t have a clear idea yet about what kind of piece I want to commission?

Not an issue. At any given time, I have many more ideas for pieces than I have time to work on. As I learn a little about your needs and desires, I'll certainly have a set of appropriate ideas we can discuss.

What about text, if the piece includes voice(s)?

We have three options:

1) Text by the composer. This approach is simplest in practical terms because it eliminates the need to seek text permission from a writer and publisher.

If we choose this option, writing a text is such an integral part of composing that I don't consider it extra work or expect additional payment. In this case, I finish the text, and the text is discussed with and approved by the commissioner, before I begin work on the music.

2) Pre-existing text. I choose texts very carefully to make sure I can relate to them as directly and deeply as I need to.

If you have ideas, I'm open in principle to considering any secular text from any era. Generally, though, the texts that speak to me most strongly are recent (mid-20th-century or later), non-rhyming, and in English or German. (I'm very open to setting texts in languages other than these, but it would take time for me to study them enough that I thoroughly understand their structure, rhythms and meaning, so we'd figure that time into the commissioning agreement.)

If we choose this option, text permission from the writer and from the publisher (or just from the writer, if the text is unpublished) is required before I do any work on the piece. If the writer is living/accessible, I'll ask to make sure the writer approves before I approach the publisher (that's not a legally required step, but I consider it important as a professional courtesy).

I can obtain the text permission on my own, but the process sometimes requires time and flexibility (if the publisher or writer refuses, we'd need to find a different text; if the publisher has financial conditions, we'd figure those into the commission's cost; etc.).

3) No text (for example, vocalise on pure vowels, or non-language syllables). Although my preference is for a text, I'll consider this option.

Time frame

I plan my work schedule far in advance; I always have a (flexible) plan for the next few years based on existing deadlines for large-scale pieces.

I can work with you on fitting a new commission into my existing schedule. The farther in advance we start talking, the better this works for me (and the more I can consider some flexibility with the commissioning fee).