It has been my pleasure over recent days to be in touch with commissioners of a couple of pieces past. It can be easy to focus on performers when one considers a new piece of music, but, even though it should go without saying, it does need to be pointed out that those who commission (for which, in the vernacular, read “pay for”) a new piece of work are the real heroes of the whole process, for it is they who plant the seed in the first place. Without them the piece would never be.
Of all the pieces I have written it is those commissioned by others which hold the most special place in my affections, and it is those pieces I am most keen to have reperformed and enter the repertoire. While it is always wonderful to have something like the Festive Voluntary performed, I get a special frisson of pleasure when something like The Lord Is My Light finds its way onto a music list.
The voyage a piece takes can be long and unpredictable – case in point, the Suite For Two Clarinets. Commissioned over a decade ago, only as the result of a chance conversation around this time last year did it find its way to a first performance, but that led almost immediately to a second performance which in turn led to a “strike while the iron is hot” recording, featuring the two players who had given those two performances, by definition the two clarinettists who know the work best. Thus this seed, dormant for so many years, has suddenly burst into flower entirely unexpectedly. Best of all, people genuinely seem to enjoy the piece and the plan is that the recording will find its way onto iTunes afore long.
In essence this all comes down to something I have mentioned many times before, that whole Churchillian dictum of never, ever giving up. Whether small or large, each commission can lead to something wonderful, and a willingness to say “yes” can have all sorts of unexpected benefits, even if they may take time to reveal themselves. And so this morning I am trawling the compositional listings online, looking for future homes for past pieces, but with the priority on those works which were brought into being by other people.