Music has a way of imprinting an emotional memory into the brain. If you listen frequently enough, you may develop a relationship with a particular musical moment. And with time, you may find that that relationship evolves or changes. Those moments, are the substance of a composer’s art.
My first commission, a brass fanfare, arose in the occasion of the grand opening of Regent’s Hall, St. Olaf’s newest science facility. It is just one such event that is made meaningful by a musical dedication. Think of it—your wedding or anniversary, a funeral, a birthday, an honor’s banquet, a recital, or some performance opportunity—brought in with new music.
Working one-on-one with a composer gives you the advantage of discussing ideas, preferences, strengths, constraints, etc. Between you and your composer, you share an objective that has never been had before. With technology these days, I am only a text, email, or Skype call away!
Where to Start?
What is the occasion? What do you envision? For what artist or ensemble will I be composing? And for what audience?
If you are requesting an instrumental work, what is your inspiration? I have had many ideas for band and orchestral works—which I have yet to explore and will not divulge—but what are yours? Whose work do you admire? Can you show me some examples?
If you are requesting a choral piece or vocal solo, do you have a specific text you would like me to set? Do you have a favorite poet or writer? Have you come across elegantly written prose? A newspaper article? Historical document? Philosophy or a striking quote? Whatever it is, please share it with me!
Remember. There may be obstacles in obtaining permission for texts, including delays, a significant fee, reluctance, or (worst case) refusal. Ouf ! As a rule, texts published after 1923 are still under copyright in the US. Rights to set, print, reprint, and publish such texts would require some research, determination, and perhaps money.
Establish a Timeframe
My preference is to sign a contract or establish a formal agreement a MINIMUM of one year before your first rehearsal. It gives me cushion for the time it will take to set my schedule, discuss my thoughts concerning the work with you and/or others, obtain permission to set a text if necessary, compose, engrave, edit, and print and deliver the score(s).
Also, I need to know in advance when and where your performance will be. I will be there if I am able! And if you would like me to attend any rehearsals, I would love it.
Negotiate a Fee
We will consider many factors in order to derive a fee, including: type of ensemble, length of the work, inclusion of professional recording, programming plans (single or shared concerts, a tour program, a festival performance, etc.), and my experience in the type of composition. Please see the Meet the Composer guidelines for commissioning (fourth page) “Concert Music and Jazz” for a general assessment.
To give you a figure, my starting fee is $800—$1200 USD per finished minute. Such a fee will cover the composition, engraving, part extraction if necessary, printing, copying, and shipping per your request. All fees are negotiable.
I do not expect you to pay me in full upfront, but of course, it is an option. My preference is to have you pay 1/2 the commission fee upon signing a contract or formal agreement and 1/2 upon delivery of the score(s). If you are not willing to pay 1/2 upfront, it is suggested that you pay 1/3 the commission fee upon signing a contract or formal agreement, 1/3 upon delivery of the score(s), and 1/3 the date of its première.
A payment in full upon delivery of the score(s) will be considered under certain circumstances.
Are You Ready?
Please contact me in order to set up a meeting in person, on the phone, or via Skype (m.e.valverde), providing your contact information.