There are often many difficulties that arise when one creates art music. From finding time and inspiration to music notation and engraving, the art of music creation is far more than simply writing melodies, harmonies and textures while following a given formal structure or musical plan.
One of the most intriguing aspects of musical composition, beyond the notes in the score, is the constant networking and promotion that a composer must undertake in order to create as many opportunities for performances of his or her work. Beyond the inner circle of musicians one acquires through post-secondary studies, one needs to broaden the scope of connections if one hopes to have his work performed abroad. Sure, close friends will likely always find ways to perform your work. But to find that elusive second and third performance is not always as easy as one might think.
Too often, composers of art music work on projects that have not been commissioned, meaning musicians or ensembles have yet to be secured for the first performance. We write without knowing if the composition in question will ever be performed. We might compose with ensembles or musicians in mind, with the hope that your work might be considered but what if your new piece doesn’t fit the program?
Luckily, many opportunities arise during which our music may be performed. Knowing of such opportunities is key. One of the main internet resources is www.composerssite.com , a site listing an extensive list of call for scores, composition competitions and other composition related opportunities. By joining the mailing list, composers can receive updated listings as they become available. Going through the list of performance opportunities and printing detailed descriptions is always a great way of keeping track of what is possible within the coming weeks or months. I usually file this information according to deadlines. Sometimes a call for score happens to point you directly to a particular piece in your music catalogue. However, more often than not, a new work or project might need to take shape.
Another great way of getting your work out there is to join a new music association or a guild of composers. More often than not, your music will surface in discussions and searches within the archives of such organizations. Being an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre, my music is published and distributed through the national Canadian Music Centre library system. Scores and parts can be purchased or rented for performance purposes. Furthermore, as an associate, the CMC dedicates space on their website to showcase my work. Finally, the CMC offers a number of opportunities for workshops, in house recitals or score reading sessions, again enabling me to promote what I do.
Another important tool for marketing and sharing what you do as a composer are the numerous networking venues found on the internet. For example, showcasing your work as a composer on such sites as soundcloud, enables you to share and promote your music. It offers direct access to performances of your latest compositions. Youtube, another very popular site on the web, will let you share performances or podcast type interviews.
Furthermore, joining groups on LinkedIn or Facebook often creates invaluable networking opportunities. For example, the NOVO ensemble performed Petits oiseaux bleus after hearing my music through LinkedIn. Unfortunately, being active on a regular basis on such network tools is very time consuming. It is by listening to musicians’ work and engaging in conversations relating to their work that one might create opportunities for performance considerations. Genuine comments and constructive criticism is key here. Don’t spend valuable time trying to create an opportunity or a connection with artists who don’t necessarily have a common ground with what you do. Spend time listening to community orchestras or high school orchestras. Comment on their performances and try to open a line of communications. In return, the conductor might listen to what you do. From there, collaboration or performance becomes possible.
Last but not least, keep your composition website updated. Add all up and coming performances, news articles regarding your music, video or audio files or recent work and contact information. Also have links to sites where your music may be purchased.
Listen to what I do: Le petit monde imaginaire de Pierrot