Michael (left) with composer John Adams (right).

Michael (left) with composer John Adams (right).

Commissioning new music is an important activity for musical ensembles and organizations as it refreshes the repertory and encourages a viable and thriving musical culture. The process of commissioning and presenting new work can be a wonderful, vitalizing experience for both the composer and the commissioning party, but your audience will be best impacted by the experience.

Commissioning a new work can seem daunting, so I have compiled general topics to consider as you begin the process. For more detailed information visit Meet The Composer’s resources guide, you’ll find a ton of info for virtually every circumstance:


  • Start by considering why you are commissioning a new work and whether there is a particular goal you have for this piece. If you hadn’t commissioned a new piece, what would you have programmed in its place?

  • Consider the length of the piece, instrumentation, and the level of difficulty. For music with voice consider what (if any) text you would like set.

  • When will you need the final manuscript? When and where will the premiere performance(s) take place? Do you need the composer present for the premiere or for any other events (rehearsals, pre-concert talks, etc.)?

  • What inscription would you like to commemorate the commission? Is it for a special occasion or person?

  • Commission fees vary based on factors such as length and instrumentation, and there may be an additional fee for engraving larger pieces and instrumental parts. The commissioning party should expect to pay half of the fee upon signing the contract before the project begins and the remainder upon receipt of the final manuscript.

  • The amount of time needed to compose, edit, and engrave a new piece can vary. Shorter pieces for smaller ensembles typically take 4 – 6 months, and longer piece for larger groups can take 12 months or more.

Please feel free to contact me at any time for more information or to begin discussing ideas for a new collaboration.