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Blaise Douros

Commissions?

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Hey all, I'm just curious, how many of you out there write commissioned pieces for more traditional ensemble? I ask because I just finished the first of a set of four choral anthems for a church, and I got to wondering how many others who focus on game composing also have their feet in that world. Also, if you do commissions, what is your focus (i.e. choral, small ensemble, brass, woodwind quintets/string quartet)? What kind of commissions have you done? I'll start: I consider myself pretty fluent in most small ensemble writing--string quartets, brass quintets are strongest for me. I am probably most comfortable writing choral stuff. Never had the opportunity to write for full orchestra, and would, of course, kill for a client with that kind of budget. Am in process of writing four choral anthems commissioned by a local church, and am in negotiations for a small ensemble piece (string quartet, probably) about Antarctica, probably about 20 min total length. I've done combination live and electronic pieces for a dance performance, a brass quintet, a couple piano trios (piano/violin/cello), and a short arrangement for flute/violin/cello. How about you guys?

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I've done several pieces for small, mixed ensembles and such. I've also written several piano pieces and am in the process of finishing up a 5 movement piano suite.

I don't do as many commissions as I'd like to, but I'm usually pretty busy with the other work so it doesn't bother me too much. I'd really like to write a piece like Ravel's Daphnius Et Cloe- which is perhaps my favorite classical piece. If you haven't heard it, check it out- AMAZING!

[Edited by - nsmadsen on October 29, 2007 3:56:43 PM]

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My main income is from writing commisioned compositions. I am making a swtich to game music, but at the moment 95% of my compositions are still for ensembles and orchestras (though I am taking still assignments if you need a composer ;) )

My main focus is on ensembles. Mainly I create an idea, form an ensemble and then get a commision from the government, sponsors etc. I use often non-standard combinations to experiment with colours and setups. For example I wrote a piece for clarinet, bass guitar, harp, piano and 2 accordions. This ensemble is on of my favorite :)
My last work is for recorder, 2 cello's and grand piano. This was performed in a beautifull church with the 4 musicians surrounding the audience.

A large project I am working on is a music theatre production about the Divine Comedy of Dante. 5 years ago I performed the first part The Inferno. It was a musical tour through the 9 rings of hell. Every ring had its own ensemble and presentation. In this project I used 112 musicians, a dance group, 3d animation, actors, a music box built for me containing 8 minutes of music (now in a museum in the Netherlands) and a lot of electronic music (sample based, analoge and music concrete. Total time of the production is 2 hours and 15 minutes. The public doesnt sit still but is walking from stage to stage till they have finished all the 9 rings.
At the moment I am working on the second part Purgatorio, which is a bit smaller in setup and is scheduled for premiere at august 2008.
I have not yet a commision for the third part Paradiso yet, but working on that and hopefully I can work out that all 3 parts can be performed after eachother. You can compare it a bit to the Ring des Nibelungen from Wagner or the opera Light from Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Other commisions are from the conservatory I am bound to as lecture and I write a lot final exam pieces for students who want to have a new modern piece at their exam. They get a nice budget from the conservatory for that.

My dream is to write a compostion like Quator pour le fin du temps from Olivier Messiaen. It is for 4 musicians and written in a concentration camp during WW2 but oh my, the intensity is that big that even a 120 person orchestra cannot get close. If you dont know it, buy it and listen to it. First time can be quite heavy if you are not that familiar with modern music, but give the piece a change and you will get one of the most rewarding experiences ever (in my opinion).

And as reaction to Nathan; indeed Daphnis et Cloé is one of the most amazing and well orchestrated pieces around :) I hope you succeed in writing such a piece! You sure have the skill to write magnificant pieces.

[Edited by - Jaap1978 on October 29, 2007 3:07:02 PM]

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Jaap,

Man, if I were in Netherlands, I'd be at one of your concerts in a flash! I'd also love to hang out, drink coffee and talk about music and composition. Alas...we're on different sides of the globe.

I'm glad to hear that you're doing so much work and would love to hear a recording of your Divine Comedy of Dante!

Well, keep up the great work and thank you for the kind words and faith in mine!

Nathan

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Ditto to nsmadsen, Jaap--your stuff sounds fascinating, and I'd love to at least see a recording or something, if not get to a performance someday. The Dante project sounds really cool--I've always wanted to do a musical theatre piece (I've toyed with the Beowulf narrative as a subject, but never seriously). I've studied and listened to the Messiaen--it's a pretty amazing story behind that piece, not to mention a great piece in its own right. As for Daphnius et Cloe, I'm not familiar with that one, but I'll be going to check it out soon...

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Thanks for the kind words and support Nathan and Blaise. On my website you will find 3 demo's and I am still checking in what form I will publish the concept on my website. I have some nice video recordings, but at the moment I am also re-writing alot of the stuff and maybe I can make a better recording with a new concert.

Would be nice to chat with you about music Nathan :) Maybe we can establish some contact by msn or mail and whenever you are near the Netherlands, let me know :D

But back on topic to the commisions. I am also curious how it goes for the other composers around here.

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Quote:
Original post by nsmadsen
Man, if I were in Netherlands, I'd be at one of your concerts in a flash! I'd also love to hang out, drink coffee and talk about music and composition.

I am :D. I live in Breda, Jaap...Maybe we could get in touch, sounds very interesting :)

Oh, and Nate. I'm downloading Daphnis et Cloe right now!

-Stenny

[Edited by - stenny on November 6, 2007 3:08:58 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Arglebargle
man, you guys are all doing such interesting things with music. I feel like I'm doing nothing of worth. :(


The worth of music doesn't have anything to do with how big a performance it gets. The quality of the music and how well it communicates with the listener are the only important considerations. Frank Martin was a 20th century Swiss composer, and wrote a setting of the Mass for double choir when he was 30 years old. He then put it in his desk drawer, claiming that it was too personal, that it was unworthy, and that it was "just between him and God." 35 years later, a friend convinced him to let it be performed. Now it's considered one of the most moving settings of the Mass ever written. Just goes to show that your own estimation of your music is nowhere near as important as how well your music communicates.

That said, have you ever tried to seek out opportunities to write for live players? If not, you should! Oftentimes existing groups like string quartets or woodwind quintets, or even church choirs (if you write choral) are either looking for new music or willing to read through a new piece.

Seriously, the absolute BEST way to learn how to notate and write instrumental parts is if you're writing for someone. My first piano trio, I wrote ridiculous parts for the violin and terrible bowings for both violin and cello. I learned really fast though--when someone looks at your score and goes "what the hell?" you tend to learn very quickly what works and what doesn't. Embarrassment is an effective teacher.

Also, if you can't gett someone to commission a piece, try to get one performed that you've already written--call in all your favors, beg and plead, but get it performed! Then you can automatically say in an offhand and casual manner "Yeah, I had a piece premiered the other day." Offhand and casual is important--practice it in the mirror. Then, when you have the opportunity to write again, whether commissioned or solicited, and they ask about your previous work, you can nonchalantly talk about the premiere you had. As long as you're slightly vague about the details that it was performed by the Shawdale String-And-Barbershop Quartet And Variety Show, you then have automatic credibility. You're a "serious" composer with a premiere under your belt, and that counts for everything.

Bottom line: you may write electronic music to pay bills, get jobs, whatever, but live performances are what you LIVE for, and if you've never had the chance to have one...they're still what you live for, and you just haven't lived yet. It's one of the most amazing experiences; even if you're not that happy with the piece, the bassoonist hates his part, and the ensemble is a little under-rehearsed, it's still YOURS. YOU wrote it, someone is performing it, and someone else is listening. And THAT's what keeps us composing even when the money's bad.

[Edited by - Blaise Douros on November 8, 2007 1:14:04 AM]

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Original post by Blaise Douros
As long as you're slightly vague about the details that it was performed by the Shawdale String-And-Barbershop Quartet And Variety Show, you then have automatic credibility.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Blaise that was very, very funny! :) Great advice too! Oh and the Shawdale String-And-Barbershop Quartet And Variety Show has added a dancing dogs bit as well so they're now billed as:

"Shawdale String-And-Barbershop Quartet And Variety Show with Dancing Dogs"

Thanks,

Nathan

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