Work on commission has been at the heart of composers’ output for centuries, and there are many masterpieces which may not have been written if it weren’t for patrons and commissioners. There are many reasons why a person or group might wish to commission a new piece of music. By commissioning new work, ensembles can not only support the creation of new music, but have works crafted to their capabilities and interests, both in terms of musical style and themes. Commissions are also often facilitated by foundations or organizations, or by individuals who wish to support a particular composer or performer, or even commission a work as a gift or in honor of a loved one. Multiple individuals and groups can also band together and commission a new work by consortium – a “win-win” situation for all involved. Overall, commissioning is a great way to engage yourself or your ensemble in the creation of brand new music which might not otherwise exist.
I have recently completed commissions for solo performers, chamber ensembles, and choral works on a wide variety of themes, both sacred and secular. For composers, there is nothing so rewarding as working with real live performers, and others who have as much passion for creating new music as we do. If you think you might be interested in commissioning a piece, or have any questions about this process, please do contact me so we can have a chat!
Some past commissions examples…
Uprooted, commissioned by The Esoterics
Above the Stars and All Beautiful, commissioned by Lee Ryder for Amuse Singers
Le Dian, commissioned by the Cheltenham Music Festival
Window Image, commissioned by Roger Williams MBE
Cantus Firmus, commissioned by the Very Rev Prof Iain Torrance
Hodie, commissioned by Con Anima Chamber Choir
Fees and timeline
In general, for a shorter work (c. 5 minutes or less), six months is a good timeframe from signing of a commissioning agreement to delivery of the new piece. For a longer work, or a chamber or large-ensemble instrumental work, a longer timeframe may be appropriate. However, the piece can often be completed earlier than this, depending on my schedule and the time of year – if you need a shorter timeline, just ask; it is highly likely that I’ll be able to accommodate you.
Fees for commissioning projects are always open to negotiation, to a point. I am fully aware and respect that commissioning new music can be a financial strain on any group or individual, and I always aim to come to an agreement that works for everyone. If you have a particular amount budgeted for a commission or a “hard limit,” it is always helpful for us composers to know this as part of the conversation, and again, I always wish to be as accommodating as possible and come to an arrangement that works for everyone. Please bear in mind that standard practice is to pay 50% of the commission fee upon signing an agreement, and 50% upon delivery of the piece.
The first step is always a conversation about the kind of work you might be interested in, so please do not hesitate to reach out!