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Commission Projects

About commissions

The best way for concert music to survive and thrive is through the creation and promotion of new pieces. This is historically how the world of classical music has operated, and only recently has it changed its paradigm to one of constant recycling of older works. One way in which I have strived to help reverse this trend is by creating my own music through composition and improvisation. Another is by serving as a catalyst to enable the music of other composers to come to life. This is what the commissioning process does. Sometimes, people seek me out to write music for me. Other times, a group of musicians get together to solicit composers to write new music for their instruments. One such formal group is the World-wide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund, Inc., headed by Kenneth Radnofsky. Piggy-backing off of his idea, I decided to organize a consortium of my own for new saxophone music. If you are unfamiliar with the group-commissioning process, this is how it works:

How group commissioning works

The basic idea is that instead of one person getting all the credit (and shouldering all the financial burden) for commissioning a new work, it is spread out among multiple musicians. These musicians become co-commissioners, and their first performances of the new work become concurrent world premieres. Each musician puts a portion of the composer's fee, plus copying and mailing expenses, into the proverbial pot. In exchange for this, they get ownership of the score and parts, their name on the piece as a co-commissioner (good resumé-building material for graduate students or not-yet-tenured professors), and exclusive recording and performing rights for an agreed-upon time. The composer in turn gets a fair wage for his labor, a large number of worldwide performances in a short amount of time, and retains all publishing rights after the initial period of exclusivity has ended. It's a win-win situation. The performers get the satisfaction of commissioning a piece without having to take out a second mortgage, and the composer gets much more publicity and exposure for the piece than he otherwise would through the traditional commissioning process.

Becoming a co-commissioner

If this is something which interests and intrigues you, I am currently putting together a database of performers and composers to bring to fruition many current and future projects. I will soon have a web form for submitting contact information. In the meantime, please contact me using the contact information at the bottom of this page.

Current Projects

There are currently five open commissioning opportunities:

  • Kenneth Fuchs - This grammy-nominated composer has several CD recordings of his music with the London Symphony. He is writing a concerto for saxophone to be released in 2012. A somewhat unusual twist is that he has offered to do both orchestra and band versions of the piece. The buy-in fee for this project is $500. You can read about Mr. Fuchs and listen to his works at his site.
  • Augusta Read Thomas - Ms. Thomas is the former composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony, a post she held for nine years. She will also be writing a concerto for saxophone and orchestra to be completed sometime in 2013. The buy-in fee for this project will probably be $3K, though monetary details have not been solidified as yet. You can read about Ms. Thomas and hear her music at her site.
  • Kenny Werner - This living jazz legend will be writing a concerto for jazz saxophonist and orchestra, which will involve some improvisation. I’ve only just started talking to Mr. Werner, so release date and funding have not been set. At this point I’m probing the saxophone world to see if there is enough interest to make this project feasible. For those of you who know Kenny’s music, you know that his unique brand of writing and playing will make this piece a standout among saxophone works. If you’re unfamiliar with his music, visit his site.

Past Projects

My first project, a saxophone concerto by Lewis Spratlan, has recently been recorded by the following groups:

  • The Boston Modern Orchestra Project with Eliot Gategno, saxophonist
  • California State University-Long Beach symphony: Johannes Muller-Stosch, conductor; Ryan Janus, saxophonist; recorded on February 22, 2009

It has also been performed several times since its release in 2007:

  • World premiere with the Holland Symphony, November 17, 2007 with Johannes Müller-Stosch, conductor and Ryan Janus, saxophonist
  • November 6, 2008 at Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall at the University of Georgia; University of Georgia symphony orchestra, Mark Sedel, conductor, and Kenneth Fischer, saxophonist
  • February 20, 2009 at Carpenter Hall, Long Beach, California; Cal State-Long Beach symphony with Johannes Müller-Stosch, conducting and Ryan Janus, saxophonist

If you are interested in buying this piece and would like to know more about the composer, a link to his website and sample tracks of his music are posted here.

email Ryan Janus