Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Idea for new kind of commission experience--are you interested?

Idea:  Let's offer our talents to choirs who would love to commission a special piece but simply have no money to do so (which is probably most choirs these days), by offering to compose a piece for their choir in exchange for a guaranteed premiere performance (if the work meets their standards and deadline) PLUS an audio, or better yet audiovisual, recording of same that could be used by the composer for her/his own marketing purposes. 
 
In order for this idea to fly we would need a significant number of composers to be interested in it, I think--not sure how many, but certainly the more the better.  If you like the idea, you could help me by suggesting the minimum number of composers you think are necessary for the idea to be announced, and if we fall short of the number we agree on, then we do not announce the opportunity. 
 
I would be willing to compile a list of all composers who are interested in such an endeavor, with their contact information and perhaps preference for the type of choir they wish to work with (voicings, ages, etc.), and post this list and the idea in the "Repertoire Questions and Discussions" forum by, say, July 15.  The header could be something like:  "Want to commission a piece, but have no $$$?  Read this!"
 
Composers who are lucky enough to be picked by a choir would work out their own arrangements with that choir.  Composers who are really lucky enough to be approached by more than one choir could make a choice of which choir(s) to accomodate, and perhaps suggest a fellow composer if they have to turn one or more choirs down.  Those of us unlucky enough to not be picked at all would just have to go cry in our beers...
 
What do you think?  Are you interested?  I don't know if this has been tried before by an entire GROUP of composers, but if it hasn't I think it's worth a shot.  Oh, and I would appreciate a "backup" person who would be provided with all the interested composers' information as it is compiled, in case I get hit by a bus and can't follow through...  This year has certainly taught me to be extra prepared.
 
- - - - - - - - - -
 
Update:  $100 has been set as the upper limit for each composer's fee per piece to participate in this project, and is non-negotiable.
 
 
 
 
Replies (100): Threaded | Chronological
on June 26, 2012 8:42pm
I think this is a fantastic idea.   I hope you get some takers.   If you get 8 people I think this could be a great project.  Let me know what kind of help I can give.  New ideas take a while to catch on.  You may get some conductors that are willing to be early adopters but I would be surprised if you got more than a dozen, more likely half a dozen.  I would be happily surprised, but surprised.  It may take a couple years but I can see this being a a huge benefit to the community with dozens of choirs and composers collaborating.   Once those relationships are started, repeat commissions are more likely.    Any takers?
on June 27, 2012 6:55am
Thanks, Jack.  I see the potential project as a win-win for composers and choirs.  Hope enough composers will be interested...
on June 26, 2012 9:22pm
I'm interested Julia, I've been thinking along these lines for some time. I'm interested in 2-part, 3-part, Mixed SATB and Men's Choirs.
on June 27, 2012 7:10am
Appreciate your interest (I am amazed at your musical output)!  I grew up in Utah; great state for choral music.
on June 26, 2012 11:34pm
I have to say, I do not think this is a good idea.  Composers deserve to be compensated for their time and effort -- rates can be negotiable and some guarantee of strong performance, excellent recording and full rights to use it shoud count for something.  But offering to write for free, especially for a group the composer has no prior relationship with, seems a terrible sign of low esteem.  I would suggest instead a "pay-what-you-can" or "make-an-offer" comission as a way to start the conversation and get some choruses over the fear that they can only commission a piece is they are willing to pay thousands for it.  But the composer should be prepared to quote standard and minimum fees per minute of composed music, and require some tangible compensation up front and upon score delivery.  I do not think choirs should engage conductors, accompanists, soloists and instrumentalists and ask them to donate their services in exchange for "exposure."  Similarly, they should approach composers with respect -- i.e. "we want to pay you something even if we cannot pay what you probably deserve."  There will still be free commissions; I have done some myself.  But they should arise out of particular circumstances and relationships, not as a blanket marketing approach in my opinion.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 27, 2012 2:54am
iChristopher,
 
I appreciate much of what you say.  'The labourer is worthy of his hire' is a phrase that comes to mind.
 
However there are some things you say that leave me less enthusiastic:
 
"I do not think choirs should engage conductors, accompanists, soloists and instrumentalists and ask them to donate their services in exchange for "exposure."  
 
I have never encountered such a situation in over 40 years of choral experience, as chorister and conductor.  The choirs I have known are proud and believe in paying their way.
 
 
Similarly, they should approach composers with respect -- i.e. "we want to pay you something even if we cannot pay what you probably deserve."  
This statement leaves me feeling uneasy.  I prefer to deal with choirs on a personal, friendly basis.  The financial aspect (if such exists)  is invariably worked out in that same spirit, and the 'respect' is mutual.  I find pedestals perilous, so I deal on the level.
 
There will still be free commissions; I have done some myself.  But they should arise out of particular circumstances and relationships, not as a blanket marketing approach in my opinion.
 
I believe that this is not so far removed from what Julia is proposing.  But with all due respect to your sentiment and belief, I think that no one here should prescribe what others should or should not do.  In this sense I feel that you must do as is best for you.  Contrariwise, I feel that for those who are not in (what seems to be) your happy position, it would be wrong to dismiss their natural desire to achieve exposure of their work.
on June 27, 2012 3:17am
I'm a bit uneasy about this - of course it is good to achieve publicity and become a name people recognize. But one of my composition teachers once told me off for taking too little money for my commissions, he said it undermines the others. And it does. If people can get used to not having to pay they'll end up not wanting to pay at all. (see all the free downloading and the reasoning: It's possible, therefore it should be legal).
 
It's a bit similar to young singers here trying to get gigs by lowering their prices for the first year and not wanting the wages we've fought for. Yes, they get their low-wage work for the first year but then the people providing the gigs just turn to the next generation coming from the schools and expect to also pay them lower rates. The same can easily happen in composition.
 
It's a slippery slope.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 27, 2012 10:19am
Excellent rebuttal, +1 internets to the original comment and the response.  Keep it coming gentlemen.  When dealing with people that are passionate about what they do it is difficult not to come off a little preachy.  All opinions are welcome and encouraged.  Just insert a few "I believe" and "in my opinion" statements once in awhlie to keep it civil.
 
Kudos to Julia for starting one of the most lively threads we have had in awhile.  If we awarded badges for such, you would have won one.  
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2012 11:31am
Thanks, Jack.  I SINCERELY HOPE that this discussion does not sink into an "us against them" type of thing-that-goes-nowhere-but-'round-and-'round, with already-successful composers (however they define it) pitted against yet-to-be-successful composers (however they define it).  I am keenly aware that we composers have an odd kind of relationship with each other here, in that we wish to be supportive and helpful to each other, but we are also competitors in a limited market of potential buyers/users/enjoyers of our music.  I do still see this idea as potentially being able to benefit ALL composers, however, if done right and well.
 
And all of you shy types and "lurkers" out there--if you are reticent about jumping into this lively discussion, could I ask you to simply post an "I'm interested" (in perhaps being one who may be commissioned) or an "I'm not interested" message, just so that I (we) will get a much better idea of how many composers would like to actually participate--in order to further the discussion and possibly come up with a workable plan.  I'd venture to suggest that there would need to be at least 10 composers this first time, if this actually happens.  And if this proposed project/activity actually happens and the first participating composers are inundated with requests by choirs, well, then we go back to the drawing board!
 
on June 27, 2012 1:33pm
Um, please disregard the thing about telling us you're NOT interested in participating--guess that wouldn't really help us know how many ARE interested, would it.  (Ach, the old gray brain, she ain't what she used to be...)  But of course please do jump in if you have anything to say, good ideas or experiences to share, etc. etc. etc.!  
 
Now gotta go do other stuff--back tomorrow.  Please keep this going everyone!
 
 
on June 27, 2012 3:42pm
Oh I hope I don't sound like I wouldn't want the competition - after all I'm not a big name anywhere but here in little Iceland :o
 
I just think we need to be careful not to shoot ourselves in the foot. Christopher made a good point by saying conductors, accompanists and (professional) soloists will be paid so why should a composer work for free? Undermining others does tend to undermine oneself in the end imho.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2012
That's the beauty of what you have proposed.  I think it can bring conductors in that  have not commissioned someone beofre.
on June 27, 2012 6:06am
Hi Julia, I like your idea very much. It could be helpful to composers who want their music performed and do not have a strong network of conductor contacts. I don't feel that you need to have
too large of a "minimum." In fact, too many composers would tend to confuse, I think. How about 25 as a maximum? (I wouldn't be surprised if a multiple of that number of composers would jump at the opportunity.) I in general agree with the comments above, but for me this may be a good one time opportunity. 
 
The real issue for directors is knowing not just what composers would be interested, but their experience and what kind of music they compose, etc. For that they would certainly go to the composers' web sites and get to hear/see their music before any dialogue about a potential project would take place. 
 
I would be open to all types of choirs, and either sacred or secular repertoire.  

Best regards,

John Newell
johnnewellmusic.com
jnmusic.blogspot.com
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 27, 2012 7:01am
Thank you, 25 was the number I had in mind, too.  Somewhere around that number would be high enough but not too high, I think.  We'll see how many composers express interest.
 
Yes, contact information would be provided, as would information about the voices/ages/etc. of choirs a composer would be interested in working with, the type of music (sacred, secular, educational), as well as a URL or link to a website or other place where existing works are available for perusal, for choir directors to find a good match.
 
Thank you for your support.
on June 27, 2012 6:48am
Although every composer would be very welcome to participate in such an activity, it is likely that "emerging" composers would be most interested. Composers who already consider themselves successful, who have already built relationships with choirs, who already enjoy paid commissions, who already sell a significant amount of their music, would likely not be interested.  It is very unlikely that this potential project would negatively impact well-known, established composers in any way, financially or otherwise.  There are much stronger forces working at present that are impacting us all, unfortunately...  
 
A great many choirs during these tough economic times (and even when times aren't so tough) not only lack the means to commission a special piece from a composer, they lack the means to purchase any new music at all and simply use what is already on the shelf, or what can be obtained through CPDL, for example--although many would love to be able to program a brand new piece composed especially for them, and excite their audiences with fresh, unique repertoire.  And because these choirs have no $$ with which to offer a paying commission to any composer in the first place, composers not involved in the activity would not lose business.  (Would composers who do participate in the project probably enjoy a professional boost of some sort?  I sure do hope so.)
 
So, I see this potential project as a win-win situation for both choirs and composers.  Choirs would have the opportunity to work with highly-motivated composers, and have new pieces to perform.  Composers (many of whom have yet to experience a commissioned opportunity) would learn how to work with choirs (as choirs would learn how to work with them), could improve their composing skills by focusing on particular needs during the process, and end up with a "real life" recording that they could use in their marketing efforts.
 
So, composers, do not let anything or anyone keep you from expressing interest in this idea if you are enthusiastic about it.  If this flies, and your name is listed and you are contacted, you would be under no obligation to say "yes" to any choir, and may back out at any time.  You are in control here, not me, not choirs, not anyone else.  If you are simply nervous about the prospect of being asked to compose something special for one choir because you haven't enjoyed a commissioning experience before, well, join the club!  The world will not end if it doesn't work out in some way, but could be a real boost to you in many ways if it does!  Life is short; be brave.  (Somebody once said something like "Having courage doesn't mean not being afraid, it means carrying on in the midst of that fear.")  It was scary for me to just post this idea.  (I should thank John Howell for getting me thinking along these lines in the first place...thanks, John!)
 
If this idea flies, maybe it could be a "once-a-year" kind of offer, perhaps each summer.  We could think about that one...
 
on June 27, 2012 8:37am
I would be very interested in being considered for a commission choral work. I have had a couple of sacred pieces published and I am a member of ASCAP (several pieces aired on national television). What can I do to make this happen? How can I help this emerging seed of a wonderful concept???
Jack Louden
Atlanta
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 27, 2012 12:07pm
Thanks, Jack!  Do stay tuned...and please feel free to add any comments or suggestions you wish.  Lively discussion, yes?
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2012 12:32pm
I strongly believe there is a need for commissioning songwriters and conductors (like myself) There certainly are some great choral composers who are established and published. Then there are others who may have had a couple of good pieces published.
 
A friend of mine does really well composing sacred choral pieces for new churches or schools; benefit organizations; particular religious celebrations. She has set fees for her commissions. I had one particular commission for a song which I titled, "Voices of Caring."
The project involved uniting inner city (lower income) and suburban childrens' voices to perform and record the song as a fundraiser. I worked closely with several board members as to the lyrics or message of the song. The organization did extremely well as a result of "commissioning" myself to compose the song. The children involved (grades 4-8) all became good friends, briding a cultural and racial barrier. Everyone came out a winner!
 
The overall project was sponsored by MBNA Bank. I conducted an evening of song with the children, including my new piece. 
 
 
on June 27, 2012 6:09pm
Is there a video?  If so please post!  I am deeply involved with singers of that age and would love to see it. 
on June 29, 2012 1:14pm
Unfortunately there is not a video of the "Voices of Caring" performance. I will try and find the link to the audio and send it to you. 
on June 29, 2012 7:17pm
Don't just send it to me, post it here.  You can use the library to upload and then post the link in a reply.  Most people get their CHoralNet in their email so our community will see it.  I'll make you an editor so you have access to the library.  You don't have to put it in the showcase to use the Library to store files.  Once posted there, you can also put a link in your ChoralNet profile.  
 
We Need Allen Simon! Join the community http://www.choralnet.org/list/grouppost/354270
on June 27, 2012 8:32am
Let me offer a conductor's perspective.
 
The normal procedure for composing, it seems to me, is that composers write music on their own motivation, then try and convince people to buy it. The cost incurred in creating the work is (ignoring the publisher and other middlemen for the moment) an overhead cost to be amortized over multiple sales. This is the same as for most products: when I buy a car, I buy a car; no one expects me to "commissiion" General Motors to design one. The risk of creating new products is borne by the producer.
 
One product where such "commissioning" is common is architecture. While most people buy cookie-cutter houses, a few people engage architects to design a custom home. This gives them enormous control over the design: typically they provide a detailed list of specifications, and expect to periodically review the plans in progress and demand changes. The music equivalent of this would be to get the chance to see drafts of the composition and demand that some sections be shortened or lengthened, that solos be added or removed, that chord progressions be altered, and so on. No one expects this degree of control in a musical commission, so frankly I don't really understand why a commission is worth paying for. There's lots of good music already out there. 
 
The only purpose of commissioning, as far as I can tell, is there's some sort of cachet or bragging rights that choirs (and foundations) seem to enjoy. Although I'm not interested in this myself, I can see why some groups might expect a PR benefit from claiming part-ownership in a new work by a big name like Morten Lauridsen or Eric Whitacre. But there's no such benefit in the case of an "emerging" composer, and my audiences don't really care whether the music I'm performing was written in 2012 or 2008 or 1997.
 
As a conductor, my top priority is to program good music. Write good music, and I might perform it. That's a more valuable use of your time than trying to convince me to commit to programming your music sight unseen, whether payment is involved or not.
on June 27, 2012 8:48am
As a composer and a conductor I can see many other reasons for commissioning a new work other than 'bragging' rights . . .
 
Is there a particular poem you'd like to see set?
Is there a niche on a program you'd like to fill?
Is there a composer's work that you admire that you'd like to be a part of bringing a new work from to light?
Are you doing a set of pieces based on the same text and would like to have a new commission to get one more perspective in a different mood?
Commissioning music is a great way to get creative and unique in your programming.
 
I'm sure I could brainstorm other reasons If I were called on, but I'm going hiking now.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on June 27, 2012 9:49am
Exactly!
 
...and looking ahead, how cool would it be for a choir to be able to brag that it was the first one ever to commission a piece from a composer who did become relatively famous someday--even if that first commission were a "bartered" one?
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2012 10:12am
An additional benefit of commissioning a work is that it can offer
a chorus and audience a chance to interact with the composer.
I have found that children's choruses particularly relish interacting
with a living (or, as we call ourselves, pre-dead) composer.  There have
been times when I have asked for (and benefitted from) suggestions
on a piece in progress.  (Okay, in one section, you're going to
imitate an orchestra.  How could you sound like a flute?)
 
I think Julia's plan is fine for composers who haven't had a lot of 
performances yet.  I would imagine that a chorus would be 
more interested in soliciting a piece from a local composer than
from a group of twenty-five distant ones.  
 
Cheers,
Brian Holmes
 
 
 
 
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 4
on June 27, 2012 11:04am
Ahhhh, but the internet has greatly shrunk the distance between people, has it not?  Why should choirs be limited to only those composers in the same city/state?  Why should composers be limited to only those choirs nearby?
on June 27, 2012 5:03pm
Perhaps we need a Skype or video conferencing tutorial so that we can hook up th eparties wherever they are.
on June 30, 2012 6:18am
Ryan (hope you go by Ryan):  May I use your list of reasons in the announcement, whenever that happens?  And if you (and others) can think of any more, please share...
on June 27, 2012 10:15am
As a composer of (mostly) choral music who has made a full-time living from commissions for more than a decade I must say that I'm certainly glad that Allen's viewpoint is relatively uncommon among conductors! Ryan's list of reasons for commissioning are all good ones but no one has yet mentioned the scenario which I have found most frequent of all--the anniversary celebration. Either the choir or its sponsoring institution (church, college, town, etc.) is about to celebrate a 50th or 100th (or some other) anniversary of its founding and plans a special event. Knowing that the words "World Premiere" are valuable both in getting free press coverage and in actually selling tickets, they decide to commission something to commemorate the Big Day. You see, if you make a fuss over it, it's actually quite easy to get your audience to care whether the music was written "in 2012, in 2008 or 1997." On the other hand, if you make it obvious that you don't care about the genesis of the piece, chances are excellent that neither your singers nor your audience will wrestle you to the mat over it. Bottom line: the conductor's attitude is usually what determines the outcome.
 
Commissioning is also an excellent way to honor either the career or the memory of some individual who has played an important role in either the personal or institutional life of the choir, its conductor, one of its members or a donor. These pieces and their premiere performances are often deeply moving for a substantial portion of the community on both sides of the footlights. That builds esprit de corps within the group and abiding ties to the community outside of the group.
 
Here's another phenomenon I have observed fairly often over the years: it's easier to get a donation to underwrite a commission than to support your annual budget. And there's not much mystery about why this would be so: general support lacks any sense of uniqueness and may even raise questions about whether, if I give THIS year, are they gonna be back after me every year from now on? Answer: probably, and some potential donors may find that off putting. A commission, however, is a "one off" and offers the opportunity for the donor's name to be printed at the top of the page of the eventually published score, lending him and his generosity a small measure of immortality.
 
And bragging rights, by the way, are not necessarily to be cast aside without consideration: lots and lots of grant money given for either commissions or that all-important annual budget depend upon an application which can list exactly this sort of activity. Think of it as the seed which sprouts into lots of other significant benefits for your ensemble, some of them with actual dollar signs attached.
 
In the final analysis, although there are doubtless some whose approach is much like Allen's, commissioning undeniably offers advantages which go far beyond the chance at being the group which commissioned a work that becomes world famous. Nearly every aspect of a project like this is ripe for development and exploitation of the best possible win-win-win sort.
Applauded by an audience of 9
on June 27, 2012 8:41am
Julia,
 
I appreciate all of the ideas that you bring to this forum and your energy for developing new programs for composers. However, I also feel that ultimately this may not be the best way to achieve what you desire. I echo most of Christopher Hoh's concerns and as someone who is trying to make a living as a composer, I agree that this type of project can potentially lower the value put on writing music. Looking to the model of Meet the Composer and their "Commissioning Music" guidelines (http://www.meetthecomposer.org/files/commissioning-music.pdf), we all must work together to make sure that our profession is not slighted nor taken advantage of and that we are paid for our work. Some composers have full-time jobs and compose on the side. For me, composing is the way that I make a living as a full-time job and if a trend is set that my work should be offered for free, that is money I don't have to put food on the table. Even for emerging composers, we should still be compensated for our work (though our fee will be lower than someone more established).
 
The answer?
I recommend the consortium model if you would like to venture forward with a similar platform. With a consortium, each choir pays much less than if they were commissioning the work on their own AND we, as the composers, receive several performances instead of just one. There are thousands of choirs around the country (many are connected with ACDA) that we can approach about this type of project and SHOULD approach.
 
I hope that you will consider these things as you move forward. I wish you the best and hope that more composers will comment on this thread - it is an important topic.
 
Jake Runestad
Applauded by an audience of 5
on June 27, 2012 10:23am
Appreciate your thoughts.  Many questions, though:  How would one or more "consortiums" of choirs be developed here via ChoralNet quickly and easily?  And what about choirs that still have zero dollars to participate?  (see below)  How would a consortium of choirs agree on the type/kind of piece to commission?  Or is this left completely up to the composer?  How would a composer work with more than one choir on one piece?  Would no interaction/feedback during the composition process be possible then (Choir X wants this, Choir Y wants that, Choir Z wants the other)?  Would it then be a "take it or leave it" proposition, or a "take it even if you don't like it because you already paid for it" proposition?  I have envisioned one composer working with one (or each) choir on each choir's piece, back and forth as needed, to meet--as fully as possible--that choir's needs and wants, so that everyone is happy in the end.
 
I went to the "Meet the Composer" website, and found the table of suggested commission fees (prefaced with the caveat that "emerging" composers might charge less, while "established" composers might charge more).  The suggested fees for choral commissions, offered as a basis for starting negotiations, are listed there as follows:
 
A work under 10' long:  $4,000-$14,500
A work 10-25' long:  $6,500 - $25,000
A work longer than 25':  $14,000 - $35,000
 
Why would an "average" choir (I am not talking here about the world-class, well-financially-endowed ones), even if they had the money, spend even the lowest suggested amount ($4,000) on ONE commissioned piece, when they could take that same $4,000 and purchase many pieces of music?  (Perhaps for the cache or bragging rights that Allen suggests? -- But then again, how many choirs in the universe have enough $$$ to commission even one piece from the "big names"?)
on June 27, 2012 10:40am
My choir once took part in a pretty interesting cooperation, 14 choirs around the world commissioned a piece by Richard Rodney Bennett. None of the choirs needed to put out more than they could afford. This was a 30 min. long piece for choir and organ and at the time it cost $6000. Divided by 14 that's not too bad. 
 
I got about $4000 for my recent 20 min piece, also for choir, organ and one soloist. The commissioning choir is a community choir, not funded by anyone but the singers themselves. They got the commission fee by seeking grants and selling tickets to the concerts.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 27, 2012 10:45am
(this cooperation was by way of ancient Choralnet when it was but a usenet group :)
on June 27, 2012 10:08am
What if we market this idea as a 1st time commissions by first time commissioners?  If the rubric is put in place that if you have not commissioned any works in the past 10 years, you are eligible.   That way this can be seen as a tool for encouraging ensembles to begin commissioning.   If they have one potato knish they may just want another.  
 
Jake, please lay out more details about the consortium idea.  I am unfamiliar with this.  
 
Allen, you direct a very high level ensemble http://sdgloria.org/ the likes of which are a lot less common than most community, church and K-12 educational ensembles.  I don't think we are after such big fish with an introductory program like this.   Most people that work at the high school level regularly have accompanists and other musicians that work for free.   My school choirs have very much enjoyed the commisioning process as they then got to meet or at leat communicate with the composer.  I see the process more like sitting down at Montmartre to have a portrait painted of you.  You wouldn't dream of telling the artist how to draw you yet you pay them anyway. You might choose which artist based on what they have already painted.  (OK not exactly as I do have some say as the commissioner).
 
Chris, Jake and Hildigunner, do you write much for the more common almost unfunded choirs?  I am familiar with the excellent works that you produce but am not aware of who regularly commissions you.   Just trying to get my brain around the dynamic.
 
This seems like a good marketing idea to me if aimed at the right market and not done very frequently.
 
We Need Allen Simon! Join the community http://www.choralnet.org/list/grouppost/354270
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 27, 2012 10:27am
Your first paragraph:  Great idea, Jack.  Thank you!
 
And I agree completely with all the rest, too.
on June 27, 2012 10:27am
Yes, the choirs I write for are unfunded, by far the most of them. They seek and get grant money to commission pieces both from businesses and official art funds. As Dan speaks of, they tend to want a new piece for a special event, sometimes for a tour abroad (easier to get official funding if they're spreading Icelandic culture around) and such. 
on June 27, 2012 10:49am
Unfortunately, at least in the U.S., grant funding for the arts is in very, very short supply right now, and probably will be for some time to come.  I can, however, envision a better-than-average choir being able to perhaps secure some grant funding in order to commission a piece from a "big name," although in the U.S. grant funding is more often than not "matching" funding, in that the choir itself is required to come up with a significant portion (often half) of the funds necessary for any endeavor or special project.  So, it is all too often true that "them that already have, get," to put it crudely.
on June 27, 2012 11:34am
Sounds like a good idea! I've been doing this on my own for years. I am the resident composer for a church where an old college buddy is music director. Tis a title with no money involved. When they need something they let me know and I get to hear it performed. They also perform things that I haven't written specifically for them. I have a huge stack of pieces that I'd love to make some money from in the future!
I've written for all kinds of choirs with all kinds of accompaniments so this sounds like it could be fun!
 
 
Phil Orem
on June 28, 2012 3:17am
Hi Julia
 
I think your idea is excellent.  My impression is that any commissions for choral music are very thin on the ground here in the UK, unless you are a 'big name' composer.  I also think that, whilst there may be occasions when people would want, for specific reasons, to seek a commission from a local composer, the international dimension of the proposed scheme would be one of its greatest strengths.  One of the strongest links I have formed since starting to write choral music is with a cathedral choir in Norway.  The distance is irrelevant - the fact that they seem to like my music is what really matters, and once the link is established it opens the way for future collaborations.
 
I can certainly understand the concerns of those who earn their main income from composing music, but I don't think the proposed scheme is aimed at them.  They will already have their connections well established, and I'd have thought that the main motivation of conductors to offer paid commissions would be (and would remain) their liking for a particular composer's music.   Your scheme, if I understand you correctly, would be aimed at choirs and conductors who don't currently commission new music, either because they have never thought of it, or because they don't have the funds available.  If the idea takes off, I think it should ultimately be of benefit to the whole profession, in opening up new avenues for cooperation between choirs and composers.
 
I'm certainly interested, so please count me in!
on June 28, 2012 6:09am
Thank you, Gordon!  Your understanding of the idea is entirely correct, and I share your opinion that it could very well benefit the whole profession over time.  Your personal experience with the cathedral choir in Norway (congratulations!) underlines the potential "international" dimension of the entire proposed project.
on June 28, 2012 6:03am
I really appreciate Christopher's and Jake's comments.  I also think the negative effect they point out would be minimized if you do adopt the idea of calling this a "first commissions" project and clearly indicating that it's intended primarily for mutual first commissions (each one bringing together an ensemble that's done few or no paid commissions and a composer who's written few or no commissions for pay).
 
It's a very rare composer who would claim NEVER to have written someone a piece for free.  In fact, one's earliest composer/performer relationships usually start with, "Hey, you should totally write a piece for my quartet!" over beers or in the dorm hallway.  But those tend to be private arrangements.  I think the difference here is the issue of publicly creating a commissioning project that's explicitly happening for free -- that's why it would be important to make it clear somehow that it's the equivalent of those all-important early "commissioning relationships" that happen just because the group and the composer mutually like and admire one another.
 
So: I'm not personally interested, but I really like your organizing impulse!
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 28, 2012 6:20am
Thank you, Kala!  Your professional and personal bios on your website are completely fascinating, and I greatly admire your international, multicultural, multi-everything focus.  I wish you much continued success with your music!
on June 29, 2012 4:25am
Julia-
 
I have actually been thinking about doing this same kind of thing with conductors I am in contact with for a little while now. While I understand the concerns that have been raised, I think gearing it towards "commission-newbies" is the best road to take. Count me in.
 
Jason
on June 29, 2012 6:29am
Great!  Thanks for your interest!  I think we'll just try to keep this thread going for another week or so, so as many composers as possible see it and have time to think about the idea, and then after the 4th of July holiday we'll see how many composers have expressed interest, and go from there--I think from 10-25 would be a good number to start with, and the more the merrier, as I really think the ones who do offer their talents to choirs are very likely to be approached by more than one choir director.  I agree that offering a barter-type or very, very low cost opportunity for the "commission-newbies" on both sides of the process is the right approach to take, although I see much value in the "consortium" approach outlined by Jake Runestad (see his post above) where several choirs could band together financially to commission a piece where the composer is paid a significant sum.  I see no reason why composers who need or wish to receive significant financial compensation for commissions could not develop their own project here on ChoralNet, and try that approach.  It would be much more time-consuming and complicated, however, and would be done for different reasons than I had in mind for this current project.
 
Also I'm thinking about maybe generating a "tiered" opportunity, where composers who simply wish to work in exchange for a decent audio/audiovisual recording but no $$$ could do so, while others who may wish to charge a very modest fee (in my mind this would be $50 or less--remember that choirs still have to make hard copies, as I think most composers would offer PDFs) PLUS get a recording could do so, too (see Michael Sandvik's post above)-- the list of participating composers would clearly indicate each composer's offer.  If anyone has thoughts about making this a "tiered opportunity," please do chime in.  It might bring in more interested composers?
 
So far we have:  M. Ryan Taylor, John Newell, Jack Louden, Philip Orem, Gordon Thornett, Jason Lamb, probably me, and one other composer who responded privately (don't know if he wants to keep his interest private at this point, so I'm erring on the side of caution).  If I've missed anyone, please tell me!
on June 29, 2012 7:12am
Just one concern about this.  You may get choirs that really want to participate but for whom making a recording that will help with marketing is unlikely.  My little church choir recently performed three pieces by CCMC members.  Non of the recordings were something I would care to put out there as represntative of my work or the composer's.  It's not that we were not capable of making a decent recording, but simply who showed up that day, problems with sound in the live space etc.   I think you had better throw in a note like this: "Particpating choirs must make every effort to produce the highest quality recording that they can including re-recording without an audience if the performance is less than desirable. " Ok wordsmiths, make that better.  The point is that if I had planned far enough ahead and thought of performing those works more as an agreement and less as "I have to have an anthem for Sunday, why not?" I could have made a better recording.  
 
I am very tempted to throw my hat in the ring here.  I need to upgrade my software and put some stuff in the showcase so if you are talking about July-August, I'm out.
 
 
We Need Allen Simon! Join the community http://www.choralnet.org/list/grouppost/354270
on June 29, 2012 8:01am
Excellent suggestion, Jack; an appropriate note to that effect should definitely be added to our offer.  And I'd love for you to participate as a composer!  Which leads to this:
 
Question for Everyone:  Do you (especially those who have already expressed interest in participating) think that we should announce our project relatively soon, or perhaps wait until the end of the summer, when schedules are less fluid and folks aren't on vacation and children aren't at home all day, etc. etc. etc.?  So far the only female composer in the list is me; perhaps we'll get more women composers interested if they don't think they would have to begin the work soon?
 
I am completely open to launching this effort soon or launching it later.  Please tell me what you think.
 
Gotta go into town today; back online here tomorrow.
 
 
on June 29, 2012 10:19am
Hey now, watch it with the sexism.  I know of at least one male composer here that is the stay at home parent and I provide at least half the care for my five kids (75% shhh don't tell my wife) ;)
 
I think starting on July 15 would be great.  Sooner rather than later is what I think.  I know summer is a time I try looking for repertoire for the coming year.  I try to have those decisions by the end of June but that never really happens.  How do the rest of you feel?
 
Where would you like to post this? The Repertoire Forum makes sense to me but the moderator didn't post Composition Showcase stuff there when asked.  Community Annuoncements may be the next best place and here of course.  I'll leave that up to you.  If you want to call this a CCMC project just run it by me and/or Greg before sending it out.  It never hurts to have another set of eyes look it over.  
 
That reminds me.  I found out Allen Simon was defunded when I went to ask him for view stats for Greg Bartholomew's blog post.  If some of you don't read and comment on his composer article about Karen P. Thomas I doubt I will ever be able to get Greg to write us another one!  I have been badgering Allen to put view counts on blog posts, yet one more reason we need him.  Right now there is still no way for us to tell if anyone reads the articles unless you comment.  
 
 
We Need Allen Simon! Join the community http://www.choralnet.org/list/grouppost/354270
 
on June 30, 2012 7:16am
Yes, I think the Repertoire Forum is the best place to post the project/activity announcement, and hopefully it will be allowed there.  If not, then we'll try the Community Announcements place.  Although I do not plan to characterize it as a "Composers Community project," I will certainly post at least two drafts of the announcement here in this Community before it goes public, an early draft and the final draft, for comments and suggestions and approval.  I'll be working on the first draft this weekend.  I do want to keep everything as brief, simple, and straightforward as possible in the announcement, and of course the details of any commission experience will be worked out completely by the composers and the choir directors, privately one-on-one.
 
Here is the basic information that I think each participating composer should provide for the announcement:
 
Name
Contact information 
Direct link to previous works, website address, etc.
Composing Preferences:
     Sacred, Secular, or Either/Both
     Choir type (adult, children, voices, etc.)
     Instrumentation (a cappella or accompanied or either, with instrumentation capabilities)
Fee (over and above receiving a decent recording, and a premiere of the work--this could be "none" or an amount up to $100)
Composer's Location (this could be optional--city/state/province/country)
 
Am I forgetting anything important?   
     
     
 
on July 7, 2012 4:48pm
Forgive me being technologically challenged, but how do I submit for this exactly? I definitely would like to participate. Thanks, Michael Deak
on July 7, 2012 5:23pm
Terrific!  All you have to do is send me your information for the categories listed in the post right above yours here, and I will add it to the list of composers and their information, which will all go at the end of our "announcement"--it will be one document.  If the document should end up being too long for one post, and rejected for that reason, I will break it into two parts, and post them one right after the other.  
 
Between July 10 and July 15 all composers will have the chance to see the whole announcement plus all composers' information, to check for accuracy, etc., before the project is announced on ChoralNet probably on or very soon after July 15.  If I have time I'll send it to each composer individually, but if I run out of time I'll post the whole thing here in the Composers Community.  I'm hedging a bit on the July 15 announcement date because a fair number of people have been without electricity for a while in the U.S., and some may still be power-less.
 
By the way, everybody, M. Ryan Taylor has kindly agreed to be my backup, in case I get hit by a bus or something.  I'm sending him all the information as I get more, so he is up to date.
 
 
on July 7, 2012 7:40pm
No direct link to previous work, but some works can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Naxos (and other sites) "Deak: Music For Piano" (Zita Carno, Piano), Cambria Records (Kaleidoscope; "Introspections" for two classical guitars)
 
I DO have an Mp3 of a live broadcast of my AGO-winning anthem performed by Hollywood Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir with Kimo Smith on organ, which I can provide as a download.
 
My composing preference for choir writing is the sacred genre; SATB adult, a cappella, or same voice group with organ or piano.
 
No fee asked over and above a decent recording and world premier. The piece I have in mind is a major work of 6.50 minutes--SATB with independent organ part.
 
I am located in Gig Harbor, Washington.
 
Thanks, Michael Deak
on July 1, 2012 7:24pm
Add me to the "public" list :-)
on July 2, 2012 5:45am
Will do--thank you!
on June 29, 2012 9:00am
I am the also interested in this project. I guess I fall into one of the lower tiers when it comes to compensation for this commission. I am open to any voicing or instrumental combination as well as stylistic preference. I very much value all of my fellow composers in this community and their fine efforts in promoting the role of living composers.
Jay Vosk
 
on June 29, 2012 12:19pm
I'm about to leave for a week's holiday, Julia, but I'm quite open to starting the project sooner or later as you prefer.  You guys know the score locally, and I imagine most of the composers and choirs are likely to be US based, at least initially (but I may be wrong about this!)  
 
I do hope the idea takes off!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 29, 2012 4:03pm
I'm a full time composer interested in music commissions as well as licensing my music for various audio enviroments.  I have several compositions on Score Exchange that are ready for performance:  http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/komposermd
on June 30, 2012 5:52am
Great!  But it's not clear if you are interested in participating in this "new kind of commission experience" as outlined in this thread...  I hope you are!  
on June 30, 2012 7:21am
Very interesting discussion and lots of valuable input, thanks, especially Kala, Michael, Jake and Dan.  I would be more interested to focus on choruses that have not commissioned in the last several years, perhaps five or more.  I would also ask to be clear that it's a "offer-to-pay-what-you-can" commission, with negotiable fee and with no obligation by either party to enter into a commissioning agreement unless the basics are worked out to mutual satisfaction.  E.g. a promise of a recording is worth a lot more from a choir that has a track record of producing good ones.  Or a delivery and performance dates two or three seasons away is easier to schedule around than a work to be finalized within a few months.  Let me add something that was emphasized at the recent "Choral Connections" conference and has been true in my limited experience:  it's about the partnership between the prodcuers and the composer, the relationships that develop, the joy in mutual music-making and creativity.  Libby Larsen said it better, but that was the idea and, as Dan Gawthrop noted, it usually creates a special experience for the performing group.  With a commisioning consortium, I've heard it makes sense to have a lead commissioner and that seems to make sense.  That is, requirements and suggestions and feedback from the commissioning group are valuable and necessary; but someone needs to be designated to corral the various ideas into coherent input for and dialogue with the composer.  Thanks, Julia, for your constructive and enthusiastic responses; you've softened me up!
on June 30, 2012 8:07am
Thank you very much for jumping in!  Yes, this opportunity will be open to choruses who have either never commissioned a piece before, or who haven't commissioned a piece for X number of years (5, 10?--we need to decide).  I also believe that offering a "pay what you can" commissioning experience would be just fine; how would we best communicate each composer's "minimum fee" (which could be zero) or "suggested retail price " (I'm not sure how best to say it), in the list of participating composers in the general announcement?  Here are my suggestions so far for the details that should go into each composer's listing (please everybody tell me if I've forgotten anything important):
 
Update:  $100 has been set as the upper limit for each composer's fee per piece to participate in this project, and is non-negotiable.
 
Name
Contact information (if not provided via a website, etc.)
Direct link to previous works, website address, etc.
Composing Preferences:
     Sacred, Secular, or Either
     Choir type (adult, children, voices, etc.)
     Instrumentation (a cappella or accompanied or either, with instrumentation capabilities)
Compensation requested (over and above receiving a decent recording, and a premiere of the work--this could be "none" or an amount up to ???)
Composer's Location (this could be optional--city/state/province/country)
 
 
What I hope to do is to make the initial "look see" experience as quick and easy for choir directors as possible, and if they could scan down the list of participating composers and see if there would be a commission fee over and above the "bartered" compensation of a decent recording and premiere performance, I think that would help them.  I would not want choir directors to have to take the time to contact each composer in whom they were interested to simply ask "how much?"  Do you agree?  Or should we simply use the word "negotiable" in the "fee line" for each composer?  If you or others can suggest the best way to handle this and communicate information about "fees" in the announcement, please do.
 
Yes, there will absolutely be no obligation on the part of any composer or choir to enter into any agreement, and the details of any agreement are to be worked out only between each composer and each choir.  This "opportunity" will be announced, then everything beyond that point will be completely up to those who wish to participate in the opportunity.  I do hope that whoever participates will find it a very interesting, enjoyable, and fruitful experience--adding to the joy of music-making and creativity, as you said so well.
 
And I also hope that in the final analysis when all of these project-planning issues are finally worked out and agreed upon by the composers who wish to participate that you will become one of them! 
on July 3, 2012 5:55am
Hi Julia, Here is my information for the project:
 
John Newell
Web site: www.johnnewellmusic.com (Information and samples of my choral works are at www.johnnewellmusic.com/Chorus.html)
Email: jnewell384@gmail.com
Preferences: Either sacred or secular. I would be interested in working with the conductor to identify a meaningful and pertinent text. 
Choir type: Children or adult choirs; open to working with mixed voice ensembles as well as male or female only groups; a capella or
accompanied groups (any instrumentation); I prefer working with experienced ensembles.
Compensation requested: a decent recording and premiere of the work; no monetary compensation required, but for performances where
admission is charged a small fee negotiable based on the circumstances (up to $250).
Location: Lubec, Maine
 
Many thanks, John
 
 
 
 
on July 3, 2012 5:57am
Hi Julia, Here is my information for the project:
 
John Newell
Web site: www.johnnewellmusic.com (Information and samples of my choral works are at www.johnnewellmusic.com/Chorus.html)
Email: jnewell384@gmail.com
Preferences: Either sacred or secular. I would be interested in working with the conductor to identify a meaningful and pertinent text. 
Choir type: Children or adult choirs; open to working with mixed voice ensembles as well as male or female only groups; a capella or
accompanied groups (any instrumentation); I prefer working with experienced ensembles.
Compensation requested: a decent recording and premiere of the work; no monetary compensation required, but for performances where
admission is charged a small fee negotiable based on the circumstances (up to $250).
Location: Lubec, Maine
 
Many thanks, John
 
 
 
 
on July 3, 2012 5:58am
Hi Julia, Here is my information for the project:
 
John Newell
Web site: www.johnnewellmusic.com (Information and samples of my choral works are at www.johnnewellmusic.com/Chorus.html)
Email: jnewell384@gmail.com
Preferences: Either sacred or secular. I would be interested in working with the conductor to identify a meaningful and pertinent text. 
Choir type: Children or adult choirs; open to working with mixed voice ensembles as well as male or female only groups; a capella or
accompanied groups (any instrumentation); I prefer working with experienced ensembles.
Compensation requested: a decent recording and premiere of the work; no monetary compensation required, but for performances where
admission is charged a small fee negotiable based on the circumstances (up to $250).
Location: Lubec, Maine
 
Many thanks, John
 
 
 
 
on July 3, 2012 5:59am
Hi Julia, Here is my information for the project:
 
John Newell
Web site: www.johnnewellmusic.com (Information and samples of my choral works are at www.johnnewellmusic.com/Chorus.html)
Email: jnewell384@gmail.com
Preferences: Either sacred or secular. I would be interested in working with the conductor to identify a meaningful and pertinent text. 
Choir type: Children or adult choirs; open to working with mixed voice ensembles as well as male or female only groups; a capella or
accompanied groups (any instrumentation); I prefer working with experienced ensembles.
Compensation requested: a decent recording and premiere of the work; no monetary compensation required, but for performances where
admission is charged a small fee negotiable based on the circumstances (up to $250).
Location: Lubec, Maine
 
Many thanks, John
 
 
 
 
on June 30, 2012 9:12am
To clear up a little potential confusion:  Composers do not need to be "commission virgins" or even "newbie" composers for this activity.  If you have enjoyed a commission experience before, whether paid or unpaid, you are completely welcome to join in this project/activity if you wish.  You will have an advantage in that you have "been there, done that," as well.
 
We might even get a little sideline thing going, too, where any composer who has enjoyed a previous commission experience could offer advice or assistance to a commission virgin, if asked for help (and you wouldn't have to participate in this project otherwise, either--just offer assistance to newbies).  You could always post a note to that effect in this Community, if you wish, after this project (hopefully) begins, volunteering your help.
 
I hope no one is offended by my use of the word "virgin."
on July 1, 2012 10:21am
To all composers interested in participating in this activity/project:
 
Please go ahead and send your information to me now at:  jlaylander@gmail.com      
 
Here are the categories:
 
Name
Contact information 
Direct link to previous works, website address, etc.
Composing Preferences:
     Sacred, Secular, or Either/Both
     Choir type (adult, children, voices, etc.)
     Instrumentation (a cappella or accompanied or either, with instrumentation capabilities)
Suggested Donation (over and above receiving a decent recording, and a premiere of the work--this could be "none" or an amount up to ???)
Composer's Location (this could be optional--city/state/province/country)
 
If anyone can think of any additional critical pieces of information that should go into each composer's listing, please speak up (although please do keep in mind that we need to keep the announcement simple, and that you can give choir directors any more information that they request--this first list should just be so they can sort through possibilities quickly and easily.)
 
Thanks for your interest!  We have 10 interested composers now, and I'm hoping for more!  
 
Oh, and there are lots of folks currently without electricity from the big storms lately, so we will certainly wait until everybody has power again to move forward.  In the meantime, I'm working on the initial draft of the announcement, which every participating composer will have a chance to see and approve and check the accuracy of their information before it is finally publicly posted.
 
Thanks to Matthew Hill for replacing "Compensation Requested" with "Suggested Donation."  Sounds much better, I think.
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 2, 2012 9:24am
First draft of the proposed announcement (list of composers not included yet--now we have 13!)--please comment, etc.: 
 
To All Choir Directors Who Have Never Commissioned a Choral Piece:
 
*Have you always wanted to commission a special choral work for your choir, but have never had the financial means to do so? 
*Is there a particular poem you'd like to see set, or a particular theme for which you cannot find “that perfect piece”? 
*Is there a niche in an upcoming program you'd like to fill? 
*Is there a composer's work that you admire, and you’d like to bring a brand new work by her or him to light? 
*Is there a special person or group whom you wish to honor with a special song?
*Will you be performing a set of pieces based on the same theme or text, and would like to commission a new piece that brings a fresh perspective to the set? 
*Would you like to enjoy and learn from a commissioning experience with a talented, highly-motivated composer? 
 
Have we got a deal for you!
 
Each of the # composers in the list below offers their time and talents to write a special piece for a choir (or perhaps more than one piece, for more than one choir), in exchange for a guaranteed premiere public performance (as long as the work meets with your approval, and is delivered by your deadline) plus a nice recording of the piece with your permission for the composer to use it freely in her/his own marketing efforts.  A nice audio recording is obligatory, but sending the composer a separate, additional audiovisual recording would be even better.  By “nice recording” we don’t mean an expensive, professionally-produced one, but the very best one that your choir can produce in a quiet environment (without an audience, if necessary).  Many of these composers ask for no money at all for this special project, while some ask for a modest fee in addition to a premiere and a recording.  Composers will retain all copyrights to their works.
 
This special project is open to ALL choir directors and choirs anywhere who have never commissioned a choral work before.  Choir directors may approach as many or as few composers as they wish.  Composers may work with as many choirs as they wish, producing as many pieces as they wish.  However, no one is obligated to work with anyone, and will make choices according to individual needs and desires.  All communications, negotiations, agreements, contracts, timelines, etc. will be conducted, arranged, and completed by each choir director + composer team—no one else will be involved at any point or level.  Your interaction may be as casual or as formal as you both wish.  The only ground rule is that everyone will be expected to work in an honest, open, professional manner in the pursuit of their respective goals.  And of course we hope that everyone will have fun with this, as well!
 
Interested?  This offer is good from July XX until _________.  Here are the composers (in no particular order):
 
- - - - - - - - - -
 
Any more composers interested in participating?  If so, please send the following information to me (jlaylander@gmail.com) at your earliest convenience:
 
Name
Contact information 
Direct link to previous works, website address, etc.
Composing Preferences:
            Sacred, Secular, or Either/Both
            Choir type (adult, children, voices, etc.)
            Instrumentation (a cappella or accompanied or either, with instrumentation capabilities)
Suggested Donation:  (over and above receiving a decent recording, and a premiere of the work--this could be "none" or an amount up to ???--I suggest $100 as the very max)
Composer's Location (this could be optional--city/state/province/country)
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 3, 2012 12:48pm
You might want to change this: "an audio recording is obligatory, but an audiovisual recording is better." to this: "an audio recoriding is obligatory but also sending an audiovisual recording is better."   Camera's have notoriously bad Mics.  It would be better to record the audio on a digital recording device in addition to the video.
 
on July 4, 2012 10:27am
Great catch, Jack.  I will modify the announcement accordingly.
on July 2, 2012 8:48pm
Hello everyone!
I'm weighing in a little late, and having read most of the replies here I doubt I could add anything fresh to the conversation.
That said I find the idea intriguing for my own personal reasons. I find parameters and requests very motivating and take great pleasure in creating something with a specific person or purpose in mind.
I don't create in order to make a living (yet). Thus far with 2 exceptions I have created for either my own benefit (sanity), or at the casual request from friends and personally connected musical groups. My first performed piece WAS my first piece, written as a college project in 2000 and later performed by the college chorale for graduation. I am not concerned at this point with 'cheapening my trade', as I know at this point the lessons learned and experiences gained while composing via comission will benefit me far more than a check.---to a point, of course :-) I have had no formal training other than a BA in music so these lessons learned will further my own personal education and hopefully move toward further developing my skills.
 
So I think-- for now-- I'm in.
 
on July 3, 2012 5:50am
Wonderful, Joy!  Please go ahead and send me your information.
on July 3, 2012 5:49am
Important Question for All:
 
I need your help with a decision.  I've received a few emails from very successful composers who are accustomed to receiving substantial sums for commissions, and who are interested in participating in this activity, but for much larger fees than I had initially thought would be appropriate (I agreed with one of you who suggested $25 or $50, if a composer truly needed more than a premiere and a nice recording, and finally came up with $100 as the suggested very upper limit).  Should these composers be included in the list of composers offering their talents to this activity?
 
I am of two minds here; I wish to be as inclusive as possible, but also wish to retain the "spirit" of the activity, in that we composers would offer our talents to choirs lacking financial resources.  On the other hand, would it hurt to include composers who wish to offer their talents for a significant (often hundreds of dollars) fee?  And if they are included, how would the offer be crafted to reflect this?  Or would including them take away from the general intent of the activity?
 
This isn't a "me" thing, it's an "us" thing--and I would greatly appreciate your input.  I want to be fair, but also consistent.  Please HELP!!!!! 
 
Update:  $100 has been set as the upper limit for each composer's fee (per piece) to participate in this project, and is non-negotiable.
 
 
 
on July 3, 2012 6:08am
Hi Julia, I agree with $100 as upper limit. The project is not for composers who routinely receive more substantial sums for their work. 
 
Thanks, John
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 3, 2012 12:59pm
Not meaning to offend anyone, but I think experienced professional composers who want a higher fee should sit this one out.  Most composers here would work for a standard commission fee as that is what they do.  The point here is to catch the newbie choirs and get them hooked and it is an excellent opportunity for our less experienced composers to cut their chops.  Altruistic professionals could of course participate but at Julia's max fee whatever that is.  Instead of saying a modest donation, I think a "token" donation would more accurate as $100 is a crazy low fee for professionals. 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 3, 2012 1:00pm
Not meaning to offend anyone, but I think experienced professional composers who want a higher fee should sit this one out.  Most composers here would work for a standard commission fee as that is what they do.  The point here is to catch the newbie choirs and get them hooked and it is an excellent opportunity for our less experienced composers to cut their chops.  Altruistic professionals could of course participate but at Julia's max fee whatever that is.  Instead of saying a modest donation, I think a "token" donation would more accurate as $100 is a crazy low fee for professionals. 
on July 3, 2012 3:10pm
I am interested as a composer - SATB, SSAA, secular or sacred, acappella or with instruments -  and as a conductor - SATB and Women's Chorus. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 3, 2012 3:49pm
Hi Dawn:  Wonderful that you are interested in the project from both sides!  Here is the info I need to prepare your listing; please send it to me:  jlaylander@gmail.com
 
Name
Contact information 
Direct link to previous works, website address, etc.
Composing Preferences:
            Sacred, Secular, or Either/Both
            Choir type (adult, children, voices, etc.)
            Instrumentation (a cappella or accompanied or either, with instrumentation capabilities)
Suggested Donation:  (over and above receiving a decent recording, and a premiere of the work--this could be "none" or an amount up to ???--I suggest $100 as the very max)
Composer's Location (this could be optional--city/state/province/country)
 
on July 3, 2012 4:16pm
Two Questions for Everyone Involved in the "New Kind of Commission" Activity--and List of Participants So Far
 
(1)  We will need to decide on the amount of time that our offer will be in force--from what date to what date should our offer(s) be good?
 
I think we're planning for the big announcement to occur around July 15; maybe we could have the offer be good from July 15 until Aug. 15?  Or Sept. 15?  Or the end of the calendar year?  
 
I do think we need to set some clear time limit on the offer...but I really don't want to decide all by myself.
 
What do you think?
 
(2)  I would also like to set a deadline for everybody who is interested to get me their information so I can compile it and then give everyone a chance to check it over for accuracy before the big announcement; can we say that everyone will get their info to me by July 10?  (Most have already; thanks!  See below.)
 
Here is the list of 24 (!) composers I have on the list so far, in no particular order (a few more are still thinking about it); if there is a star by your name I still need your info (if you've sent it to me via ChoralNet I didn't get it--the website has been a bit wonky lately).  If I've missed anybody, please speak up!  And THANK YOU EVERYBODY so far!
 
Jay Vosk
M. Ryan Taylor
Jonathan C. Adams
John Newell
Jack Louden
Dustin Oldenburg
Joy DeCoursey-Porter
Philip Orem
Brad Burrill
Gordon Thornett
Scott Hill
Jason Lamb
Lisa Erhard
Dawn Sonntag*
Matthew Hill
Charles Norman Mason
David Brazzeal
Eva Kendrick
Davis Jones
Mårten Jansson
Michael Deák
Lana Mountford
David Nino
Jim Davis
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
on July 3, 2012 5:11pm
Hi Julia!
 
Please include me in your list.  Here's hoping that all is well with you.
on July 4, 2012 6:24am
Cool!  Thanks for jumping in, Wally!
on July 4, 2012 8:36am
I'm happy to let my offer stand indefinitely, and I think this would be a good ongoing program, which composers can join or leave as they please.
 
But for this trial run a deadline is perfectly appropriate.  Let it run at least a month or two into the school year, though, to give everyone a chance to find out about it.
 
on July 4, 2012 9:05am
Thanks, Scott.  Yes, every composer would be perfectly free to let stand whatever offer they make for as long as they wish.  I was just thinking that it might be a good idea to put a deadline on this initial offer, so that choir directors would jump in sooner than later, and we'd all get some idea of the amount of enthusiasm for the project from them. Letting it run at least a couple of months into the school year is a good idea, I think.  Maybe then July 15 to October 15, a three-month span of time that would occur before the holiday season cranks up?  When does school start for most folks?  I've been out of that loop for a long while.
 
But your idea of an ongoing program is completely intriguing; something like that would probably need a special "tab" or "community" on ChoralNet, though, so that composers could add or subtract their information as they wish--I suppose then it would work something like our Composition Showcase?  Hmmmmmm.....
 
So, let's all see how this first "group offer" works out, and then go from there.  I think we'll all be pleasantly surprised at how many choirs will be interested.
 
 
on July 5, 2012 6:09am
Clearing Up Confusion:
 
Several successful composers, who can and do command significant fees for commissions (hundreds to thousands of $$$), have approached me about this project.  I have responded at length to all of their emails, explaining the purpose of and philosophy behind this effort, but am running out of time and energy to do so--and, frankly, I'm just getting weary.  From now on my responses to composers who want or need a fee higher than $100 will be short and terse, and I will ask them to simply read the entire thread for information.  The fee cap is non-negotiable for this special project.
 
To reiterate:  We (the participating composers) are offering our time and talents to choirs that have never commissioned a work before, and who do not have any money, or have very little money, to spend.  In return we will receive tangible things that will be very valuable to us in our marketing efforts, a premiere performance and a nice recording.  I agree with the composer who suggested that requiring a choir to pay a little something (he suggested $25-$50) would cement that choir's investment in the project.  But the fee will not go above $100 for this project.  You will all be on your honor to not request or try to negotiate a fee higher than $100 when a choir director approaches you about the possibility of working together. 
 
I have suggested to the "high fee" composers that they band together and craft their own special project where they can ask for or negotiate as high a commission fee as they wish, and perhaps they will do so.  I have removed some composers' names from the list, but would be happy to add them back if they agree to the $100 fee limit.
 
Thank you everyone for your interest, and I look forward to the launch of our special project around July 15.
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 5, 2012 11:37am
Addition to Announcement:
 
Having worked in the nonprofit world for many years total, I am truly embarrassed to realize that I did not think of this sooner.  My old gray brain--sigh.  Anyway, here's something I will add to our announcement:
 
[*Please note:  As you work with a composer, you can together determine the “true monetary value” of the composer’s time and effort, and add this information to your list of in-kind donations, if your choir keeps track of that information for accounting and/or fundraising purposes.]
 
And composers, you can also make use of that same "donated" amount for tax purposes, if you work with nonprofit, tax-exempt choirs.  Agree on the "donated" amount(s) with your choir(s), get them to send you a receipt for same, and use it if you can.  Whew.
 
And if anybody else can think of more ways we could "leverage" this activity for even greater benefit for composers and choirs, please tell us all here.
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 6, 2012 10:54am
Dear Colleagues,
 
I'm joining late here, and I salute you all for the wonderful inputs, and Julia for your fine idea and having the grit to ride out the arguments and keep clarity (Jack can tell you about that).
 
Let me make sure  I understand the proposition:
 
1. Trying to attract mostly first-commission choirs with low budgets for them, or no commissions for many years.
2. Offering composers who may be commission virgins or at any rate not "experienced" and glad to get something out there and learn from the experience.
3. Offering composers who will accept the modest fee plus a decent recording for at least one commission (but no promise that they won't up their rate if they get famous . . .)
4. Linking composers and choirs one-to-one.
 
I think it is definitely worth a try, sort of a Loss Leader commercial offer, selling by price. If the choir likes the experience of working with the composer, they might become candidates for a repeat and even up the ante for later ones, particularly if this group can provide consolidated advice on ways to get more funds for bigger ones down the road (Dan Gawthorp's advice on occasions for commissions was wonderful, thanks Dan and yes I have sung some of your lovely pieces!). So we might increase the pool of modest and midrange choirs that want to play, which can only help us all.
 
The only thing I don't see is a strong way to attract choirs. As I understand it, you start with a single ACDA site posting, leading with "FREE OR LOW COST COMMISSIONS ON SALE NOW"? But what else? What's needed is--sympathetic conductors (sound familiar?)
 
And yes, you can be promised a good recording ut that is no guarantee, nor are you guaranteed a good performance. I don't know that "having enough budget for a full-fee commission" automatically translates to "good enough choir/conductor to mount a demo-worthy performance/recording", and conversely not/not; I too have gotten candid recordings that were indicative enough to know what revisions I needed to make (and when do I not start revising almost immediately?) but not good enough to share publicly. (BTW, there are simple guidelines for how to get that without top audio equipment, starting with  decent mike placement for example, folks record direct to laptops and there are inexpensive digital recorders and even recording/mic combos out there. Find a teen who records his friend's band's demos . . . . video too)
 
I'm going to sit this one out even though it has been a slim year for commissions for me personally; I used to get them from choirs I sang in--but I can't sing in 10 choirs.
 
What I am much more interested in, and perhaps I or someone should start another thread on this, is the consortium idea. This model allows choirs the same low cost of entry, but aggregates a decent fee for the composer. Plus there is a buzz you generate with multiple performances and having perhaps an online way for the performers to share their experiences of the activity. And you have better odds of getting at least one decent performance recording with many players in the pool. As for fee, my aim (with some exceptions) is to recoup at least some of my time for composing and at the very least for ENGRAVING and cleanup of score and any parts needed. (That is the time--or expense--I lament) So I am starting to try that approach.
 
Example: I am about to post a commission offer, with several anchor bands whose conductors I know, for a suite of not-difficult characteristic miniatures scored for "minimum Community Band safe scoring" (this complement is based on an online instrumentation/numbers survey I recently did across the CMList, CBDNA, etc. and will be publishing in some Journals). The entry cost will probably be $100 per band. I may post MP3s of midi dumps of sketches of some of the movements and let participants vote online for their favorites to include. The anchor bands will have the veto/inputs on the final list of pieces, scoring revisions, etc.
 
Then the challenge is: HOW DO YOU GET PEOPLE TO JOIN THE CONSORTIUM? There is no universal kiosk for posting that, either for bands or for choirs. That's the part that is a challenge (unless you have plenty money for an agent/publicist, which few have). Again, it is just for one composer.
 
SO: Anyone who wants to discuss that, please email me offlist and perhaps we can have our own lively discussion about how to work that model on an individual composer basis.
 
Meanwhile, my very best wishes for good success with "Julia's List" (proposed name for the group), and please keep us posted on results, we will all be watching--and waiting to hear that recording.
 
Warm regards,
 
David Avshalomov
Composer, Singer, Conductor
Special Citation Winner, American Prize 2012/Orchestral Composition
Santa Monica
davshalomov@earthlink.net
www.davidavshalomov.com
310-480-9525
 
on July 6, 2012 4:47pm
Hi David:
 
Thank you very much for your kind words; I do appreciate them.  And your understanding of our experimental project is completely correct.  Yes, there are many unknowns, and no guarantees of anything, but I think that for an initial effort this modest activity might just bear some very fine fruit.  My hope is that once this project is announced on ChoralNet (hopefully it will be "allowed" in the Repertoire Forum), that word of mouth between choir directors will help--although these days I suppose it should be called text or tweet of fingers.
 
As I have thought more about everyone's comments in the thread, I have come to believe that there are actually two choral "universes" out there--at least in relation to this current project.  Universe One contains the vast majority of emerging, not-yet-successful, and semi-successful (in their own minds) composers, and also those composers who compose only (or mostly) for the love of music and the sheer joy of creating works of art and either do not need or do not want to compose for money, plus the vast majority of choirs of all kinds (even many very or extremely good ones) without much $$.  Universe Two contains all of the successful or very successful composers (meaning that their works are widely performed, and they make a significant amount of $$ from their efforts), and all of the well-financially-endowed choirs (most of which are extremely good).  Universe One is much bigger than Universe Two, and I think it would be fair to say that many composers and many choirs who now live in Universe One would like to move into Universe Two at some point--and of course Universe Two would simply expand to accomodate all of the new residents.
 
I see the project I proposed as being located entirely in Universe One.  The kind of "consortium of choirs commissioning at higher fees" project that you and others have talked about I see as a kind of worm hole between Universe One and Universe Two (forgive the sci-fi analogy) that would allow mutually-beneficial freedom of movement and interactions between successful composers in Universe Two and many choirs in Universe One.  It would be a more complicated endeavor, but perhaps someone with enough time and energy could initiate and follow through with it.
 
So, when we "talk" about these projects, maybe we could call them the Universe One Project and the Wormhole Project (if it is planned).  I would feel more comfortable with that name, the Universe One Project, as "Julia's List" is, um, too personal--and after the project is announced I am DONE.
 
Again, thanks much for your post and for wishing the folks in Universe One luck, and I do hope that you and other composers in Universe Two can get together and design a project that would much better fit your needs and desires.  I, for one, would love for a discussion about that possibility to be public here in the Composers Forum or elsewhere on ChoralNet, as our Universe One discussion has been, so that all can join in and learn from it.
 
 
on July 7, 2012 9:16am
As someone who isn't immersed in the choral community, I am also curious about how many choir directors will end up taking us up on the offer.  But I suppose we will find out. :)
on July 7, 2012 11:23am
Yes, I think we are going "where no group of choral composers have gone before."  There are no guarantees, and many unknowns.  All we can do is try!
 
The response to our project could be hugely disappointing or hugely gratifying for the group as a whole.  For individual composers it could result in either the "I've been totally ignored and am just going to go eat worms" outcome or the "Omigosh I have to turn down ANOTHER choir because I've already committed myself!" outcome.  The reality will probably lie somewhere between those two extremes, for the whole group as well as each composer.
 
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for everyone!  
on July 6, 2012 10:54am
Dear Colleagues,
 
I'm joining late here, and I salute you all for the wonderful inputs, and Julia for your fine idea and having the grit to ride out the arguments and keep clarity (Jack can tell you about that).
 
Let me make sure  I understand the proposition:
 
1. Trying to attract mostly first-commission choirs with low budgets for them, or no commissions for many years.
2. Offering composers who may be commission virgins or at any rate not "experienced" and glad to get something out there and learn from the experience.
3. Offering composers who will accept the modest fee plus a decent recording for at least one commission (but no promise that they won't up their rate if they get famous . . .)
4. Linking composers and choirs one-to-one.
 
I think it is definitely worth a try, sort of a Loss Leader commercial offer, selling by price. If the choir likes the experience of working with the composer, they might become candidates for a repeat and even up the ante for later ones, particularly if this group can provide consolidated advice on ways to get more funds for bigger ones down the road (Dan Gawthorp's advice on occasions for commissions was wonderful, thanks Dan and yes I have sung some of your lovely pieces!). So we might increase the pool of modest and midrange choirs that want to play, which can only help us all.
 
The only thing I don't see is a strong way to attract choirs. As I understand it, you start with a single ACDA site posting, leading with "FREE OR LOW COST COMMISSIONS ON SALE NOW"? But what else? What's needed is--sympathetic conductors (sound familiar?)
 
And yes, you can be promised a good recording ut that is no guarantee, nor are you guaranteed a good performance. I don't know that "having enough budget for a full-fee commission" automatically translates to "good enough choir/conductor to mount a demo-worthy performance/recording", and conversely not/not; I too have gotten candid recordings that were indicative enough to know what revisions I needed to make (and when do I not start revising almost immediately?) but not good enough to share publicly. (BTW, there are simple guidelines for how to get that without top audio equipment, starting with  decent mike placement for example, folks record direct to laptops and there are inexpensive digital recorders and even recording/mic combos out there. Find a teen who records his friend's band's demos . . . . video too)
 
I'm going to sit this one out even though it has been a slim year for commissions for me personally; I used to get them from choirs I sang in--but I can't sing in 10 choirs.
 
What I am much more interested in, and perhaps I or someone should start another thread on this, is the consortium idea. This model allows choirs the same low cost of entry, but aggregates a decent fee for the composer. Plus there is a buzz you generate with multiple performances and having perhaps an online way for the performers to share their experiences of the activity. And you have better odds of getting at least one decent performance recording with many players in the pool. As for fee, my aim (with some exceptions) is to recoup at least some of my time for composing and at the very least for ENGRAVING and cleanup of score and any parts needed. (That is the time--or expense--I lament) So I am starting to try that approach.
 
Example: I am about to post a commission offer, with several anchor bands whose conductors I know, for a suite of not-difficult characteristic miniatures scored for "minimum Community Band safe scoring" (this complement is based on an online instrumentation/numbers survey I recently did across the CMList, CBDNA, etc. and will be publishing in some Journals). The entry cost will probably be $100 per band. I may post MP3s of midi dumps of sketches of some of the movements and let participants vote online for their favorites to include. The anchor bands will have the veto/inputs on the final list of pieces, scoring revisions, etc.
 
Then the challenge is: HOW DO YOU GET PEOPLE TO JOIN THE CONSORTIUM? There is no universal kiosk for posting that, either for bands or for choirs. That's the part that is a challenge (unless you have plenty money for an agent/publicist, which few have). Again, it is just for one composer.
 
SO: Anyone who wants to discuss that, please email me offlist and perhaps we can have our own lively discussion about how to work that model on an individual composer basis.
 
Meanwhile, my very best wishes for good success with "Julia's List" (proposed name for the group), and please keep us posted on results, we will all be watching--and waiting to hear that recording.
 
Warm regards,
 
David Avshalomov
Composer, Singer, Conductor
Special Citation Winner, American Prize 2012/Orchestral Composition
Santa Monica
davshalomov@earthlink.net
www.davidavshalomov.com
310-480-9525
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 7, 2012 1:55pm
Well, I've been on holiday (vacation!) in beautiful Austria for the past seven days, and - wow - how this thread has taken off while I've been away!  Looking back to your original post, Julia, I still think it's a wonderfully simple idea.  I hope it will bear some fruit for many choirs and composers, but even if it works for just a few it will be worth doing.  How you can publicise it out there in the big world I'm not really qualified to say.  Are most choirs in the US affiliated in some way to ChoralNet, or is it just a minority of keen ones?  If the latter, I suppose the project might need to be advertised in some way to the wider community.  Perhaps social networks (Facebook, etc.) might play an important part in this, particularly if someone's project were really to take off in a big way - which might of itself create publicity for others.  Also if local press were contacted in this case, this could only engender more interest.  Maybe others could suggest additional ways of widening the circle...
on July 7, 2012 3:05pm
Ooooh, lucky you, Gordon! Hope you had a fabulous holiday!  As to "advertising" this first-time, experimental project, I think (at least I hope) that "announcing" it here on ChoralNet, in the "Repertoire" Forum (first choice, as I think choir directors really pay attention to that one) or in "Community" Announcements (second choice) will be enough to get the project rolling, and afterward I hope that word-of-mouth among choir directors will keep it going--"Hey, Sandra, have you heard about....?".  As I don't think any of us have any idea how the project will be received, I would be hesitant to "advertise" the project more widely, as the participating composers could then find themselves overwhelmed with offers.  They may be anyway; who knows?
 
As of right now (about 3:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday, July 7) we have 20 composers on the list; I'm hoping for maybe 5 or even 10 more, and just posted a message to that effect in the Composers Community.  If I remember correctly from reading a recent blog on the home page, the ACDA currently has about 17,000 members, and ChoralNet is the primary "communication and networking" tool for that community of choir directors and others, as well as being free and open to anyone else who cares to use it who may not be an ACDA member--a wonderful thing, I think.
 
So, if even a fairly small minority of those 17,000 ACDA members are paying attention to ChoralNet this summer, I think we will gain enough interest to get the project going. Fingers are crossed! 
on July 8, 2012 1:47pm
I don't know about other cities in the US or elsewhere, but Seattle has an organization, the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium (http://www.seattlesings.org/ ), whose purpose it is to promote choral music in all its forms in the Puget Sound area. Member organizations agree to promote each other's concerts via a standard insert in each program, and they meet several times a year to plan joint concerts, etc. Cantaré, the group I'm most closely affiliated with, is a member. I think there may be a similar organization in the San Francisco Bay area.

Anyway, something like that might be a way to reach more choruses, although most choirs are members of either ACDA or Chorus America (or both).

Which reminds me -- we need to let Chorus America know what's we're doing. Chorus America seems to concern itself more with community choruses, as opposed to ACDA,s emphasis on school choral programs. Chorus America's national conference will be in Seattle next year, I believe (Karen Thomas, help me out here ... :-), so this would be a great reason to connect with them.

Lana Mountford
Bellingham, WA

on July 8, 2012 2:35pm
Hi Lana:
 
Would you (and others) suggest that we contact the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium (and perhaps similar groups) AND Chorus America with the complete Project Announcement (which describes the project and lists all participating composers) on the same day that we announce it on ChoralNet, and ask that they both/all post it somewhere online where choir directors can see it?  I did notice that Chorus America has something of their own going on right now, a "Commission Consortium Opportunities" project with Dale Warland and Jim Papoulis, where part of the proceeds will go to help support Chorus America.  (See the ad on their home page, scroll down right hand side, http://www.chorusamerica.org/)
 
Or should we wait a bit after the project is announced here on ChoralNet, to see what kind of response composers are getting?  I have this funny feeling that composers might get a ton of responses without us reaching any farther, but I could be completely wrong.  Participating composers, what do YOU think?  I don't feel at all qualified to make this decision on my own.  We'll just go with the majority opinion--so please share yours here, in public, so everybody will know what the majority opinion is.
 
I will be posting the entire announcement here in the Composers Community on the 10th or 11th, so that every participating composer can review it and make sure that the info I have for them is correct.  Then you'll have from then until the 14th to tell me if you need any changes.  I still plan to make the public announcement on July 15. 
on July 8, 2012 10:27am
I've just been reading with interest the  'Composers' Marketplace Planning Group' discussions in another CN community.  Would I be right in thinking this idea has now been dropped, as there haven't been any new contributions for a few months?  Although an interesting idea, similar in some ways to Sibelius's 'Score Exchange', I'm much keener on this current project to encourage new commissions.
 
Btw, regarding Sibelius software, I've just heard about Avid's decision to close down their UK offices that support Sibelius here in the UK.  This is a very worrying development, and bad news for British composers and arrangers (though, I realise, this is off topic!)
on July 8, 2012 11:19am
Yes, unfortunately the efforts to build and launch a "Composers Marketplace" here on ChoralNet were discontinued without warning around the end of 2011, and I have not heard of any plans to revive that project.  We do, however, have a "Composition Showcase" (thanks to Jack Senzig's herculean efforts) where many of us have placed some of our works--although there is still no link to it or mention of it on the ChoralNet home page, and may never be.  The ACDA/ChoralNet receives advertising revenue from traditional music publishers and distributors, and it is probably the case that providing or supporting free (or much less costly) advertising/marketing strategies, especially to self-published composers, by allowing a Composers Marketplace to exist, or even by providing a link to the Composition Showcase, would be considered unfair competition for the paying advertisers--even though the plan had been for ChoralNet to take a percentage of all sales in the Marketplace (there is no such financial "connection" with the Showcase).  It all got very complicated and messy.  In any case, information about the Showcase and links to how to use and access it are on the Composers Community home page:  http://www.choralnet.org/home/224833
 
I also use Sibelius (v. 6) and it is distressing to hear that Avid is closing down their UK support offices.  I thought that Avid's headquarters were in the UK; perhaps I am wrong, or perhaps they have moved them?  This depression is having serious effects on every aspect of our lives now.  Very scary and unsettling.
on July 8, 2012 2:53pm
A Composer Considering the Project Needs Your Advice:
 
A composer contacted me with a serious concern, and hopes you can advise her.  She is an experienced, published, award-winning composer who is concerned that if she participates in THIS project, choirs who have previously commissioned a work from her (for pay) would react very negatively if they learned of it.
 
Can anyone provide her with help or advice?  She wishes to remain anonymous for now, for obvious reasons, so please just reply in public to this post.
 
Thanks! 
 
 
on July 8, 2012 4:10pm
Personally, I'd advise her to trust her instincts and assume this project isn't a good fit for her.  Obviously that's an opinion, not a proclamation. 
 
I think that if you've already established a rate (or rate range) for yourself, there are some clear reasons to focus on other projects and other avenues of relationship-building than this.  As others have mentioned, a good ideal for composers is to establish a professional rate range and then consistently try to find EITHER single groups that can afford it OR other ways to make that range achievable (such as consortium commissions, grantseeking, commissioning competitions, and/or crowdsourced fundraising [kickstarter, indiegogo, USAprojects, etc.]). 
 
If I were her, I'd be more focused on actively and positively cultivating ongoing relationships with the groups I'd already worked with -- so yes, I'd be very mindful of actions that could alienate them or dilute the worth I'd established. 
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 8, 2012 4:26pm
I think that this concern is very valid.  It sounds as though this composer is already at a place where many in this community are trying to reach.  If she is interested in making any kind of a living as a composer and choirs are willing to compensate her, I'd suggest sticking with "regular" commissions.  Just my 2 cents (or my $20, depending on your experience level :-D).
 
on July 8, 2012 11:35pm
Two things: Why should they react negatively? And why should she care?
 
Her product is hers to price as she sees fit. If she could command a $1000 fee and chooses to work for $100 instead, then it is certainly not the business of any choir that paid $1000 in the past to complain. She is effectively making a $900 donation in kind to the commissioning choir, if you want to look at it that way. If she is in a position where she has the luxury of choosing whether to sell to the highest bidder or not, then that decision is hers and hers alone. (I just reread that and realized that it could sound like a gripe, so I should note by way of disclaimer that I myself am in the happy position to have that luxury.)
 
--
Regards,
Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Helsinki, Finland
Applauded by an audience of 3
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.