CJ Replay: Commissioning New Music
Date: October 2, 2012
(From the Choral Journal article “Commissioning Works for Children’s Chors: One Conductor’s Story,” by Donna Thomasson)
Have you ever noticed that one of the most common topics among choral directors is repertoire? A comment such as, "My children's choir has commissioned a new work and we are premiering it next spring," would definitely cause a reaction. Those in the conversation would start asking questions-questions about the composer, the voicing, the
instrumentation, the cost, and the venue for the premiere. Along with the questions comes a certain level of excitement and anticipation. And for some, these thoughts come to mind, "Do I have what it takes as a conductor to accomplish this?" and "When will I have an opportunity to commission a new work?"
Commissioning a new work can offer more rewards than you may ever expect. First, the rewards for the singers themselves are endless, as they see beyond the words and notes to the process that created the piece. Next, the reaction of the audience to a commissioned work is often more emotional and therefore more meaningful. Premiering a new work can create a lasting connection among all involved: the performers, composers, audiences and conductors.
Musical art on the page is one of the most stimulating gifts we can give our students and society as a whole. As conductors, we have the power to commission new works. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to keep the art form of commissioning alive and thriving, not only for our singers but also for our communities, our composers and ourselves.