What does it mean to commission a piece?

To commission music means to pay a composer to write a particular composition for a specific purpose or event. Anyone can commission music, and any type of music can be commissioned. The cost of a commission is based on length of the work and what forces will be employed.

Why not commission a piece of music?

Many people shy away from commissioning a new piece of music because they feel the costs can be prohibitive. Suggested guidelines for commissioning music put forth by Meet the Composer look intimidating. For others, the thought of commissioning a piece that might be performed once seems extravagant. One solution to these concerns is to spread the costs among several participants, providing multiple opportunities for the piece to be heard by different audiences ensuring it has a life beyond the first performance. The sharing of costs and premiering new pieces of music is CONSORTIUM COMMISSIONING and it is becoming more and more popular.

Advantages of Consortium Commissioning:

    • Allows the sharing of costs
    • Guarantees the work will have more than one performance
    • Heightens the awareness of a particular composer
    • Builds longer-term relations between commissioners and composers

By participating in a consortium commission, schools, ensembles, and individuals can participate in something lasting, participate in the creation of new, something bigger than themselves, add new works to the canon, and aid in the growth and development of the composer’s career.

Credit and Acknowledgement:

Most often, all of the members of the consortium are listed on the score (typically along with the premiere dates) in perpetuity.

For each project, each commissioning partner will receive:

    • An autographed master copy of music that lists all the commissioners.
    • A complete score, via PDF, and a license to as many copies as necessary to perform the piece.
    • Have exclusive rights to perform the piece for 9 months. At that time, the piece will be available for sale to the public.
    • Participating ensembles will share the commissions (and printed dedications) equally.

Example: If you are a choir of 60 members, the cost of purchasing a new piece for each member is $2.50 each – totalling $150. In this case, you could commission a new work and get to premiere it for about the same costs. You would be contributing to the vast canon of choral works and supporting the career of a composer.

* If the performance occurs within 150 miles of my home, I will gladly try to attend.

Contact me and we can talk about your project if interested in forming a consortium, see what other groups might be interested in joining.

Darin John Lewis