Let’s Collaborate

I am open to all requests for commissions for your ensemble, performers, or event. Email me to start collaborating, or find answers to common questions below.

I’ve never commissioned a piece before. How does it work?

Composing and performing new music is always a collaboration. First, we’ll get to know each other a bit and find out what our expectations are. Before any composing happens, we’ll talk about at least three things:

  • Artistic ideas. I want to learn about your project and the vision behind it. We can talk about ideas related to the commission, or brainstorm ways to make something new from wherever you’re starting, whether its a concert, a word, an idea, a sound, or a question.
  • Your ensemble. What kind of ensemble do you have? Tell me about its technical requirements. Point toward past recordings, tell me about its favourite music, its strengths and weaknesses, or any other interesting facts.
  • Our agreement. When things are in writing, we’ll both have peace of mind. The contract will include details like the composer fee and deadline for the score and parts.

From that point on, I start to write. We will keep the lines of communication open until the deadline, rehearsals, premiere, and beyond.

How much does a commissioned piece usually cost?

I use professional rates established by the Canadian League of Composers (CLC) as a guideline.

How long does it take to write music?

At least as long as the piece is. But really, the longer the runway, the better. Ideas sometimes take a long time to percolate and settle into something just right for your ensemble. Ideally, plan a season ahead, or at least six months. But it depends on timing, availability, and other factors that we’ll uncover as we get to know each other.

How can I get started?

Send me an email with the following information:

  • Introduce yourself and your ensemble or project.
  • Provide a short description of the ensemble or performers.
  • Tell me the circumstances behind the commission (e.g., type of concert or event, occasion, relevant artistic themes, context for the premiere performance).

I’ll respond as soon as I am able.

Other questions you might have

Commissioning a new piece seems risky. What if my ensemble pays for a new piece we don’t like?

You’re right, art is risky. Without getting too philosophical:

  • A strong collaboration and open communication between composer and ensemble will increase the chances of a successful premiere. The more we talk about the concepts and the ensemble, the better we will understand expectations.
  • First impressions count. When the ensemble has a positive introduction to a new piece, they may be more likely to enjoy working on the music.
  • Every new piece is, well, new. You can listen to my catalogue to get a sense of what I have done, but that’s all in the past! There are no reruns.

My board members/colleagues/donors don’t see the value of commissioning a new piece. What should I tell them?

You can start by reading the article, “Why Commission Choral Music?”, in which choral director Lisa Friesen describes some of the ways a new piece of music I wrote for her high school ensemble made a positive impact.

Or, you can say, because it’s exciting to rehearse and perform something new for the first time! Our art forms live or die by the ideas and enthusiasm we put into them.

Ready? Email me to ask about commissioning a new work.

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