The following is information for people who are new to the commissioning process.
About Commissions - How They Work
A commission is a process in which a person or organization (a commissioner) pays a composer to write a piece of music for a specific event or project. Here is a breakdown of the commissioning process:
- Commissioner contacts composer with initial query
- Composer sends commissioner a list of questions to determine the fee and the time needed for the project
- Commissioner responds to questions
- Composer proposes a fee and sets a time frame for the project
- A contract is created and signed by both parties
- Commissioner pays half of the commissioning fee up front
- The second half of the payment is due upon completion of the project and before the finished piece is delivered to the commissioner.
- During the entire process there will be communication between the commissioner and the composer, as needed
- Pieces for performance: e.g., professional performances, concerts, college recitals
- Special occasion pieces: e.g., weddings, funerals, anniversaries, dedication of a building or event
- Film scores
- Music to accompany live theater or dance events
Sample Question List for Potential Commissioner to Answer
- What is the final desired outcome of the project? (performance, recording, both, etc.)
- Is there a timeframe for the project from beginning to end? Is there a set deadline?
- Do you have a particular instrumentation in mind?
- Do you have specific performers in mind?
- What is the proposed compensation for the project?
- How closely do you want to work with the composer? For example, would you want to specify the mood or sound of each movement or would the composer more or less have creative license with the text setting?
Past Commissions and Collaborations
• Animus Ensemble, Piece for their 2012 concert season, 2011.
• American Shakespeare Company, Piece for Multimedia Performance, 2009.
• Dinosaur Annex Young Composers Festival Grand Concert Commission for wind ensemble and string trio, 2009.
• New Gallery Concert Series, piece along the theme of "home" and "family" for prepared folk harp and cello, 2009 concert.
• Anthology, a cappella female quartet, for the concert series Songs of Protest and Civil Unrest, 2009.
• Rialto Arts, for the multimedia performance Buccaneers of Buzz: Celebrating the Honeybee, 2008.
• To a Man documentary film score, funded by a COHASI Grant, 2008 and 2009.
• Community Music Center of Boston Orchestra and Chorus, in honor of David Lapin's 25th year as executive director, for mixed adult and children's chorus, soprano soloist and orchestra, 2008.
• William O’Neill, Bass-Baritone, senior recital, San Francisco Conservatory, 2008.
* Laurie Robertson-Lorant, poet, choral cycle ofr female chorus, 2008.
* Paul Turner, poet, song cycle, 2008.
• First Parish Needham and Grace Church Choirs for the concert program Voices of the Spirit: Voices of New England, 2007.
• Providence Mandolin Orchestra, for their 2006-2007 concert season.
• Jessica Sherer, flutist, senior recital, Longy School of Music, 2006.
* Shining song cycle with Kathleen Spivack, poet, 2005.
• Second Star to the Right, violin, flute, and piano trio, New England tour, 2005.
• Quincy Quartet, clarinet and three cellos, Summer Music Clinic, 2005.
*s indicate collaborations with poets.
At the following site, you can download the pamphlet, "Commissioning Music: a Basic Guide," written by the Meet the Composer organization.
This is an excellent resource for those who are new to the commissioning process. It also gives sample composer fee tables, based on the instrumentation and duration of the project.