Commissioning New Works
GALA choruses have been leaders in commissioning new music for over two decades. Commissioning new music gives choruses a chance to work directly with living composers in creating a work of art that can be shared and performed many times. It also allows LGBT choruses to work with texts that directly speak to our mission or experiences as GLBT individuals.
In preparing for your commission plan carefully to select text, a strong composer and to clarify your expectations and parameters in order to commission a strong piece of music that has a life beyond the première.
- Checklist for Commissioning Choral Music
Use this document to ask the right questions as you are planning your commission.
- Commissioning Timeline
Creating a new commission can take 12-24 months. Use this sample timeline to plan each step in your commissioning process.
- Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide – Meet the Composer
An excellent resource that offers fee guidelines as well as a basic description of rights and considerations.
- How to Commission a New Work – Abbie Betinis
Composer, Abbie Betinis shares her suggestions for commissioning a new work.
- Tips for Commissioning – Dr. Stan Hill
Take the time to find a composer who understands your chorus and writes in a style that will be a strong fit for your organization and project. Make sure the composer you select is skilled at writing for choirs! Look at other choral commissioned they have written, listen to their recordings.
Some ensembles use contests to find new music. Pieces are submitted in partial or complete form and a prize (commission fee) is awarded to the selected composition. An advantage here is that the chorus can choose from several pieces instead of just one. You also encourage newer composers to apply.
The organizations below offer composer databases, sample sound and score samples. You can also post a request for commissioning proposals on many of these sites.
This page offers a list of composers that have created commissions, and are familiar with, LGBT choruses along with links to their websites, recordings and score samples.
American Composer's Forum
The ACF is committed to supporting composers and developing new markets for their music. On their website you can list your commission project and request proposals, search their database for a composer.
New Music USA
This organization seeks to find new ways advance the cause of new music and inspire an ever-growing community to listeners. They stream a catalog of new music around the clock on Counterstream Radio as well as providing commissioning grants.
New Music On-Line Library
The Online Library is a searchable database with access to digital scores, sound files and biographical information on composers.
Adapt these contracts to make sure your commission expectations are clearly spelled out between all parties.
The best way to fund a commission is to find an individual donor who is interested in leaving a legacy by contributing toward a new piece of music. This donor can be honored with recognition at your concert, in the program and in the PR for the concert premiere.
Some foundations or corporations may offer a dollar match for a fundraising campaign to encourage multiple gifts from your donors.
Consider collaborating with 2-3 other GALA choruses to share the cost of the commission. List your commission idea on this GALA commission discussion board.
The following organizations may provide commissioning grants to choruses or to composers:
New Music USA Supports commissioning fees as well as appearance and residency fees for composers.
The Dr. Catherine Roma Commissioning Fund
This new fund provide commissioning grants to GALA member choruses for new works by women composers.
For not-for-profit arts organizations applying on behalf of artists for the creation, development, and production of new works by emerging artists in New York City and Minnesota.
American Composer's Forum
These grants are mostly for individual artists but may be a resource for a commissioning collaboration.
Our member choruses have commissioned thousands of new commissions in our 30-year history. Check out these links and consider performing a new work that was previously commissioned by another GALA Chorus.
Lifting As We Climb
SSAA, piano, alto sax, percussion narrators and speakers
Length: 25 min
The 2020 Dr. Catherine Roma Commission was composed by Joan Szymko in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the U.S. Lifting As We Climb, is composed in three movements which open with the current climate of voting rights today, then look back in celebration of the struggles women endured in order to win the right to vote, and finally looking ahead and asking how we can engage and activate real change for all women of all colors in this unjust and soiled world.
An accompanying middle-school curriculum is provided free of charge and includes historical information about the suffragette movement as well as musical scores to allow students to learn the actual music of the commission. Scores may be ordered directly from Joan Szymko.
Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream
This 55-min SATB musical (spoken word and music) celebrates the life of gay African-American civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin, who was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Music by Steve Milloy and libretto by Vanessa German. The commission includes a curriculum for use in partnership with local schools. Recording. Contact Steve Milloy.
Quiet No More
An 8-movement commission celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Composed for SSAA, SATB and TTBB choirs. The commission also includes a school curriculum. Contact Charlie Beale.
MUSE: Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir Commissions
MUSE has commissioned and arranged over 100 choral works for women’s chorus – many of them by women composers.
A Sample of GALA Commissions - ACDA Workshop
Excel - This compilation of commissions by GALA choruses was compiled by conductor Joe Buches for an ACDA workshop.
New York City Gay Men’s Chorus Commissions
NEW Consortium Commissioning Project
Artists: Mari Esabel Valverde & Dane Figueroa Edidi
Did you know that “The senseless killing of trans women” is a rampant problem in American society? (source: Marsha P. Johnson Institute)
Vision of the Work:
The first in a series of choral pieces addressing the epidemic of violence, especially murders, of transgender women and in particular trans women of color (TWOC). We hope that this inspires conversations aimed at cultivating intentional solidarity with TWOC with a work created by two trans women of color. The vision is that this composition will eventually become one movement in a larger work. According to our artistic collaborators: “It’s not just one work. It’s a movement. It’s not just about honoring lives. It’s about saving lives.”
Length of the Musical Work = ca. 4 minutes
For SATB, with SSAA and/or TTBB voicings available
To premiere in the 2021-2022 concert season/academic year. Choruses will receive scores no later than January 1, 2021
Extension and Activism
Conversation surrounding the work is necessary and can be extremely powerful in education and activism. Plans include, but are not limited to:
- partnering with local organizations, schools, churches, etc.
- coordinating composer and/or poet talks at the premiere(s) of the work, etc.
- e-activism involving the distribution of the premiere video/audio recording
- Option for partnerships facilitated between high-school/collegiate choirs and GALA LGBTQ Choruses
- Educational materials for participating choruses.
Cost: Commissioning choruses pay a sliding fee of $300-750 to support the commission process. Includes score and curriculum for high school singers. This commission is offered free of charge to any trans chorus.
Deadline to commit to the project is March 1, 2020.
To state your commitment to this project, please click here (Google form).
For more information, please email Joshua Palkki.
- Marian Dolan, conductor
GALA Festival 2016 Song list
See the Repertoire resource page for a spreadsheet of music performed at Festival 2016 including publisher and composer contacts. Commissioned works are tracked.