Apr 10

All About Compositions

How Commissioning a Piece For Band Works




This past Wednesday evening Dr. Gershman and Ryan Difenderfer gave a joint masterclass on how commissioning a piece of music works for a high school or junior high band.  Ryan Diefenderfer also gave an overview and a bit of a sneak preview for his piece in this masterclass.  It was a highly informative and inspiring event that was enjoyed by all.

To commission a piece for a high school band, there are a lot of questions to be answered such as why do I want to have a piece commissioned?  Who would be willing to compose a commissioned piece for my band?  How much does it cost? How much time should this process take?  All of these questions and more were answered last Wednesday.  To answer some of the questions, typically a piece is commissioned for a specific occasion such as commemorating a wonderful band parent or staff member.   Another reason could be to dedicate the opening of the new auditorium or part of the school. Commissioned works are usually done for a special event or purpose.

Almost any composer is willing to commission a piece.  It can depend on how much your band department is will to pay for a commissioned work, and how much time you are willing to wait for a commissioned piece.  Dr. Gershman mentioned in this masterclass that if you were wanting someone such as Frank Ticheli to compose a piece for your band, it would cost a substantial amount more than if you asked a young composer who is maybe still in college, or just graduated from college to compose a piece.  Another piece of information that was given by Dr. Gershman was you should always discuss cost and difficulty level with the composer you are working with.  We also discussed how you can create a consortium to help pay for a commissioned piece.  A consortium is a group of schools that comes together to help make a commissioned piece happen.  We also discussed how much time the consortium would get to have this piece before it goes public and also how long a director should take to have a commissioned piece done.

imageThe second part of the masterclass was dedicated to Ryan talking about his piece that he recently wrote.  It was inspired by a late baroque painting that is titled Four Rivers of Paradise which is the same name as his composition.  It depicts the four rivers of antiquity that were believed to have flowed from paradise or The Garden of Eden.  This piece is based on four different motives and each motive represents a different river.  It is a very interesting and wonderful piece composed for wind band.