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How To Introduce Your Work To An Orchestra Or Musician?


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Dear all,

I would like to have some advise/help from you.

If you intend to make play your work to an orchestra or to a musician, how would you introduce your work?

How can be a way to create the necessary interest?

Who would you contact, to send the required presentation?

I thank you very much in advance for your answers to these topics.

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Well, you could, I suppose, just send a copy of your music to an orchestra/chamber ensemble. But unless you have some kind of reputation already it's unlikely they would just decide to perform it like that. Maybe an amateur or college orchestra would read through it at a rehearsal if you were connected to them, or some friends might.

Let me tell you how it was for me. At university I took composition as part of my studies. During the course, I had pieces I had written for my studies played by musicians in workshops and concerts at the university. Then I showed an orchestration of a piece by Dvorak I had made to a friend who conducted one of the orchestras there, and he liked it and agreed to perform it in a concert. The rest of the orchestra and the audience liked it too, so people now knew I was interested in composing and orchestrating. After this I composed a piece for myself to perform in my final recital, so more people heard my music, including another friend who is also a conductor. He asked me to make an arrangement of a popular Christmas carol which his choir and orchestra (I play in it) performed in a concert, and after that he liked my music so he asked me to write a cantata for the choir, which I am writing at the moment. Two other friends whom I knew from before university asked about what I did there, I told them about my composition and they looked at my scores and listened to recordings. So they also asked me to write pieces and make arrangements for their orchestras and for their students. At the same time I entered a competition and had my piece performed in the final which was a public concert by the orchestra. I also play piano for a choir of my own, so I will show the conductor of that my music and persuade him to perform it.

So as you can see, I got music performed mostly because I met people who were in charge of orchestras and showed them my scores. Once one person likes your music this will persuade others to take an interest and so gradually more and more people hear of you. Note that all of this came from the fact I was performing for these people as well so they knew who I was already and knew of my experience as a musician. So if you get involved in performance you can make yourself know to people who might play your music and have a way of asking them.

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Just to add a little - aim for community orchestras but research them before contacting them. Determine their repertoire and see what they have programmed. Then you could do what Siwi did - arrange for orchestra another composer's piece because it will 1) save you the headache of creating original material 2) you would choose a composer found often in their rep which would make it infinitely easier for the orchestra to learn because they know the style 3) if it is a successful arrangement most conductors would feel far more confident commissioning a work from such a composer rather than one who has not written for orchestra or has but has had little or none of his stuff performed.

One thing to arrange IF you get a community orchestra to play (and hoepfully one without too strict union rules), get a recording but work out legally in advance that the recording is solely for your educational and promotional purposes. Seriously, invest in a little legal prep because I have heard nightmare stories even from orchestra members who wrote something for their orchestra and were demanded by their union to destroy the recording.

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Getting orchestras to perform your work is just at the cusp of being impossible. The few sure fire ways to get an orchestra to perform your work is to become the Composer in Residence with the orchestra, enter a composing competition in where the prize is an orchestral performance, or (in my case) be apart of a program in where an orchestral reading, not a performance but a sight reading session is a planned event that is a requirement. You must remember most orchestras, be it community, college, or professional, plan their seasons WAY in advance. Their time is incredibly valuable and they would rather spend it rehearsing the music they plan to perform. They are less likely to rehears your music and risk wasting their time on music that is most likely not going to be programed on their concert season.

When it comes to individual performers to read and perform your work, thats easy. The best way to do that is to be friend a musician or two. You can agin enter competitions in where the prize is a reading or performance of your piece by talented musicians and you could just ask musicians if they would be interested in performing your works. Both are good ways to get performance from individual musicians or small chamber ensembles, however its not guaranteed that they will agree to it or are able to perform it to the level of quality you want it. But the best way is to befriend as many musicians as you can. That way they are more incline to do it as a favor, you know their strength and weaknesses, you know if they can or not due to their schedule, and you are more likely to have a second performance since you will still be in contact with them. Musician friends can also refer you to other musicians thus increasing the amount of musicians you know. I know for me this method worked when I was looking for musicians for my Senior Composition Recital. I was able to get 22 individual musicians because I was friends with most of them and the ones I wasn't friends with were referred to me. Even my most recent performance the singer that performed my piece was a friend from my church choir that happened to be a performance major at my university as well.

Depending on where you are and what your situation, making friends with musicians might be easier said than done, but its worth a try. It is much much harder to do this outside of an academic setting like I am, but its not impossible.

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  • 5 months later...

Sorry for so late reply. I wanted just collect the major number of opinions and to read all and not diagonally but row by row understanding the meanings. All the meanings.

I would like to thank you very much for your clearness in the suggestions. I prepared a couple of pieces and I'm trying to approach some little orchestra to see what they are willing to do, following your indications.

Till today I didn't receive yet a clear answer form them, the main reason: they are performing less and less due the crisis that's killing, here in EU, any kind of idea/activity. What I know is that at least one piece is surely accepted and they probably (mamma mia how many uncertainties :) ) they will start in September to rehears it.

I hope so. It is a piece with 4 voices, for harps, a passacaglia with some fugas and canon and I'm' crossing all the .

It's till now the only one effective result I got :)

I thank you all again for your help

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