The March/April 2023 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Reflections on Conductors, Composers, and Commissions” by Andrew Crane. Following is a portion from the article.
Over the course of the past two decades as a full-time director of choral activities (three at the high school level and eighteen at the university level), I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with numerous composers on commissions, premieres, and, by virtue of my choral series with Walton Music, to assist composers in getting works published. The ACDA Standing Committee for Composition Initiatives invited me to share about my experiences with choral composition, and I suppose the best place to start is the “why.” Why, as a conductor, do I spend a good deal of time engaging with living composers of choral music? For several reasons:
1) I take great joy in bringing exposure to new works that I really believe in. I love seeing a wonderful new piece spread organically to other choirs and conductors. This brings me the same kind of pride that I feel when a choir under my direction sings well in performance.
2) Several years ago, a conductor who was somewhat familiar with my work told me that I preferred “repertoire off the beaten path.” His point was that I seemed more drawn to new/unknown compositions rather than choosing simply from what was popular that year. Upon some reflection, I decided that he was probably right. I’m not completely sure why this is the case, but I do believe repertoire selection is just as much a part of the creative process as is the act of rehearsing and conducting in performance. In a certain way I feel like I’m somehow expressing my own creativity by finding new and/or unfamiliar works.
3) The experience of a premiere, when it really “hits,” can be exciting for conductor, choir, and audience alike. There’s something magical about being part of a collaborative process that gives life to new art.
Those are the “whys.” The “what” and the “how” are a little more complicated, and perhaps not without some controversy. I’ll admit that these opinions are solely my own, and they come from a lot of trial and error. Not all of my experiences with composers and commissions have been wildly successful—likely because of some fault of mine, not the composers’––but here are some topics to consider.
Read the full article in the March/April 2023 issue of Choral Journal. acda.org/choraljournal