Start a music commission for your program

A music commission can be a great experience for everyone involved: the composer, director, musicians, administrators, organization, and local community. As the composer, it’s not only an amazing feeling to hear my music performed for the first time, but also to see everyone else’s excitement knowing that they played a part in creating a new piece of music.

Jon and musicians at the premiere of Who Speaks for Wolf

By using the same technology as Hollywood film composers, anyone can hear their commission before the first rehearsal.

Though a traditional music commission can be a secretive process with everyone but the composer kept in the dark until the first rehearsal or premiere, today’s music technology allows the process to be much more open and collaborative. By using the same technology as Hollywood film composers, anyone can hear their commission before the first rehearsal.

For example, let’s play a short excerpt from Richard E. Strayer’s Middle School jazz commission “Finding You.” The first will be a playback from music notation software; the second will be a Hollywood-type demo where a live trumpet is overdubbed with professional music library samples.

A. Music Notation Playback (poor-quality)

B. “Hollywood Demo” (professional-quality)

Not only does the music director get a far more accurate representation of what the piece will sound like with the “Hollywood Demo,” but he can share the mp3 with his ensemble and administrators so that everyone can get involved in the process earlier.  Getting everyone involved sooner will add to the excitement of the music commission and will build momentum towards a successful premiere.

Creating a realistic sounding demo is just one of ways to take a music commission into the 21st-Century and make the experience even more special. If you are interested in learning more or would like to commission a work for your program, please contact me.

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