THESE days I’m working on a series about commissioning new music — and some of the news is good, offering more and different kinds of options to composers and audiences alike. But this Guardian piece recounting a survey of British composers reminds me how complex, wide-ranging and sometimes depressing the field of composing classical music can be.
One sobering part of the report: The average fee for a music commission was 1,392 pounds. And the vast majority of composers surveyed saw their earnings going down, and about two-thirds said commissions were not a significant part of their income. (These people, by the way, are composers.)
Here’s how the Susanna Eastburn of Brit agency Sound and Music begins her piece:
If we believe that music is a living artform then it stands to reason that the creation of new music is vital to its current and future health. However, professional composers are being asked to create new music for very little money in conditions that are too often inadequate. As a sector we have some hard questions to ask ourselves about our priorities.
I’ll be writing about commissioning in all its dimensions over the next few months.