. Interchanging Idioms: Meeting Commission Deadlines - Why do Orchestras Accept This?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meeting Commission Deadlines - Why do Orchestras Accept This?

There is a lot of furor over Golijov using music by Philip Glass in a commission for the Chicago Symphony. One of the comments suggests he struggles to meet commission deadlines. In a blog post defending Golijov, Glass Notes said, "other composers regularly don't meet deadlines on high profile commissions."


Dallas Symphony recently gave a concert of James Newton Howard. Mr Howard was commissioned to write a new piece for the concert but other deadlines got in the way.

While I appreciate a concert of Mr Howard's music has more audience appeal than my own. Mr Golijov also has name recognition that I do not. But I have NEVER missed a deadline --and I never intended on ever missing one.

If I'm contracted for a piece, I consider that contract to be an obligation on my part. Just as much as I hate when an ensemble decides to not play one of my pieces at the last minute, not providing the music for a commission is just as frustrating.

Last year, I was commissioned by the Boulder Symphony to provide a piece for their concert "Heroism Reborn" --which they just gave last Friday. Over the course of the year, the commission was changed from an orchestral piece with solo performer, to an orchestral piece, then to a brass and percussion piece and ultimately brass and timpani music. The last change was only a slight modification from the score I had already provided, but the switch from orchestral to brass and percussion meant I went back to the drawing board to write something completely new.

Composers out there might cringe at the thought of having to write a completely new work for the same commission. But I feel it is my role as composer to give the ensemble what they need for their performance.

I may not have the audience appeal YET - but I will. AND when an orchestra requests a piece of music, they know they will get it.

For those composers out there who can't seem to make their deadlines? How about sharing the wealth? There are a lot of composers like me who would gladly take over any commissions you don't seem to have time for.

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