Is Commissioning Ego-Driven?

I recently saw someone write that it was a poor use of their school choir budget to commission new choral works, because it doesn’t really give anything educational to the students.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Of all the projects I have undertaken with the Rockford Aces, the one that has most profoundly affected them – musically and personally – has been our most recent commission project.
Here are some of the lessons learned along the way.
  • Ownership: They owned “Cindy” in a different way than any other piece in their seven years of existence. It was theirs in a visceral way.
  • Interaction: The interaction with Alice Parker was potent, and understanding that she had been alone writing the piece before they ever saw it was so educational. Being a part to the compositional process from commission to first rehearsal to premiere made each of them better understand the compositional process.
  • Pride: Those students walked away incredibly proud to have been a part of creating this new art, and they have remained excited and proud to see “our” piece in the hands of other choirs, and in print with their group on the title page.
  • Community: they felt part of the choral community that they had never felt holding an octavo.

Choral music is a living art, and the students exposed to that commission process felt the life. Up until then, I don’t think they all really had.

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