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GUEST POST: Creative Ways to Fund Commissions

For Community Choruses

By Tori Cook

One of the biggest challenges community choruses face when commissioning new music is figuring out how to fund it. Here are some creative ways to get the money you need for your commissioned work!

Get a Grant

Research grants for community choruses to find granting organizations that may be interested in funding your commission. Believe it or not, there are several granting organizations specifically dedicated to helping ensembles and composers create new music together. Here are a few opportunities:

  • Jerome Fund for New Music
  • America Music Project
  • Ann Stookey Fund for New Music
  • Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Program
  • New Music USA
  • The Aaron Copland Fund for Music - Even if a granting organization doesn’t specifically support musical commissions, they may still be interested in your project if it fits within the scope of their mission. Start with your local arts commissions/councils and local foundations that have a shared interest in the arts and a...


The Long Game: Generations

Forget Concerts. Forget Seasons. Think Generations.

By Paul John Rudoi

I found this interesting infographic detailing how much some famous composers made for their work with the figures adjusted only slightly for, you know, hundreds of years of inflation. It’s fascinating not only because many of the numbers are through the roof, but also because the vast majority of composers and ensembles can’t fathom this sort of society.

21st-century composers regularly acknowledge the effects of a “post” society–post-modern, post-apprenticeship, post-patron–on their work and livelihood. From an ensemble perspective, the “post” labels are there but different, including post-classicist, sometimes post-racial, and often post-popular. These trends make it difficult for composers to make a living and ensembles to find relevance. But the choral field is attempting to forge a new path.

Over the past quarter century, professional choirs have sprung up across the United States and Europe. Invigorating choral exchanges now happen often at nearly every...


Five Ways to Invigorate Right Before the Stage

By Paul John Rudoi

After years touring and performing with Cantus, I found there were certain pre-concert rituals that got us ready for performing. For me, it was centering through breathing… after playing about fifteen minutes of intense hacky sack… after eating a ridiculously filling home-cooked meal. For others, it was yoga or a huddle or even a glass of milk. However individuals get ready, here are five unique ways to center and get excited as an ensemble.

Three Things

The concept of a rule of three is great for writing, programming, and performing. I’ve devoted a post to each of those, but the performing side is particularly useful here. In a nutshell: ask the ensemble for three things to remember throughout the concert. If you ask for this consistently through a season or two, you’ll find ensembles will consider these beforehand and bring reoccurring themes to the table. Or you can consistently ask them for new ones, helping them to think creatively about their artistry.



New Music as Teaching Tools

By Paul John Rudoi

Commissioned new music can be daunting to learn. There’s no “ideal,” no accurate representation of what it should sound or feel like other than what’s on the page. But it’s the sort of exploration that can inspire confidence and engagement in an ensemble. Here are three steps to take when learning a new commission, and some ways to integrate these steps into your rehearsal methods.

Step 1: Start Objective Every commission comes from a subjective, personal place. No director or ensemble decides to commission because they don't care. But when you and your ensemble get the score, considering it as an objective piece of music can be very rewarding.

New, together Always check the piece out before you're with your ensemble, but just barely. It's fun to break the piece down with your ensemble, allowing you all to explore something new together.

Macro to micro Break it down by form, section, phrase, etc. Starting large can give everyone a sense of what's happening while...


I Believe In Kids

By Paul John Rudoi

While I don’t have or want kids anytime soon, I do find them fascinating. The show “Kids say the darndest things” was a hit for a reason; adults, regardless of their personal view on having offspring, found children’s responses on almost everything to be unique. Regardless of the psychology or brain science behind it, I love how they fly about, obsessing over seemingly disparate elements as connected in some otherworldly way, only to find societal norms and considerations bringing them back to a reality they never knew. No wonder, then, that I ended up an artist when my mom never told me to leave “my own little world” as my elementary teachers put it. They wanted me to conform to silence, and my mom wanted my voice to be heard, if that’s what I wanted. So I let the voice form its own opinion of itself, and here I stand, subservient to its whims and obsessions.

Where has that led me? I believe that art speaks to the humanity in all of us. I believe that music...