Beginning in undergrad (and sometimes earlier), composers are taught how to approach performers—what to say, what not to say, how to phrase critiques, ask questions, and ensure a successful performance. But because traditional performance institutions, particularly those following the conservatory model, value dead composers above all else (except for that one large ensemble concert a year that’s reserved for new works), it’s not uncommon to encounter performers who haven’t thought all that much about how working closely with a composer can require something beyond basic professionalism. Young performers, particularly those who play works by a composer friend, seem particularly susceptible to this, but everyone can stand to benefit from some organized consideration every once in awhile. So what do composers wish their performers knew?
In the interim between the end of Phantom’s fall call for scores and the beginning of our winter round, I’ve received a few questions about running a call for scores as an ensemble, what exactly it entails, and how we did it. As I’ve been taking point in our hunt for new, fresh-off-the-press-if-we-can-get-it music, I decided to compile a few of the most important parts of the call for scores process into the following post to serve as a preliminary guide for anyone else with a new group who wants some new material.