Today I am really pleased to continue our series with a guest post by Deborah Simpkin-King writing about Project: Encore. If you haven't heard about this great initiative I hope you will read this post, visit the website and, please, share this with your friends in the choral world. If you are tired of just seeing the hundreds of vanilla offerings in the 3-4 minute octavo genre browser bin, here is a resource filled with awesome repertory delight: great texts and great music!
Here is today's guest blog:
Out of the Marvelous Musical Mayhem: PROJECT : ENCORE™
~ universal portal for high-quality, post-premiere choral compositions ~
Through the series entitled “Music Publishing Trends,” Paul is providing a clear window on the marvelously vibrant (and sometimes overwhelming!) world of new music dissemination. As a performer with deep-seated belief in the necessity for the prophetic voices of our composers, I resonate strongly with many of Paul’s perspectives, and identify these two very exciting streams of creativity that have emerged increasingly over the past 25 years:
- Mushrooming popularity of ‘doing new music,’ often even taking the forms of premieres, commissions, and composer competitions.
- Emergence of a plethora of means of disseminating new music - including self-publishing through individual composer web sites, co-op publishing (see Part Four in this series), and innovative approaches to incorporated publishing (see Part Three re See-A-Dot) - all made possible by the advent of music software (see Parts One and Two).
At this point, most choral ensembles serious about their art make some serious nod in the direction of ‘new music.’ (This, of course, does not apply to those particularly brand-identifying with ‘early music,’ etc.) Bringing new music into existence is becoming increasingly ‘the thing to do!’ -and this is very good!!
~ Our Next Challenge ~
With so many options, so many resources, so many places to turn for repertoire, how is a conductor who is motivated to find fresh material (even perhaps a new composer to commission) to sort through it all? And how, for that matter, is a composer to make h/herself heard amongst the din? Even thirty years ago, most conductors would have turned almost exclusively to traditional publishers, for material to perform; most composers, to a publisher to contract and promote.*
Some avowed repertoire geeks will actually take delight in plowing through mountains of scores! (Convicted!) -but even for those of us so predisposed, there is never enough time. And perhaps some have more sanely balanced lives . . . ; / Information overload simply IS a modern-day reality. So, in the midst of all of this . . .
How do we identify/evaluate today’s emerging Choral Canon?
When the next major Masterwork is written, how will we know?
The founding mission underlying PROJECT : ENCORE™ (P:E) is that of addressing these very issues, with the specific focus of spinning high-quality, post-premiere choral compositions into performances even after the ‘premiere cachet’ has been spent. The historical genesis of P:E has recently been told in the See-A-Dot October Newsletter, so I’ll not repeat it here.
Allow me to clarify what PROJECT : ENCORE is not: It is not a publisher, though it includes some published works. It is not a promoter of a specific style, voicing, length or difficulty level, and includes compositions across all such parameters. It is not a competitor with publishers, co-ops, or self-publishing composers.**
P:E does not seek to become another co-op, or composer collective.
Rather, P:E works with ALL (co-ops, individuals, collectives, publishers)
in the evaluation and dissemination of strong choral voices!
What makes P:E different from a collective? Objective review. There is no commitment to all the work of any composer or group of composers. In fact, it has happened a number of times that a composer has some submissions accepted and some not! All identifying names and indicia are redacted before the scores go to review.
Review process: P:E compositions have been objectively (blindly) reviewed by our high-level team of reviewers, each of whom has a significant programming commitment to new music, each of whom is a highly noted conductor internationally. The perspective from which P:E Reviewers are asked to evaluate each composition is one of expansiveness beyond their own performance needs and style preferences. Each composition reviewed must be evaluated as ‘high quality’ and ‘worthy of repeat performances’ by at least two of three P:E reviewers for acceptance into the database.
Submission process: A composer may submit up to four scores per year, one per quarter. Each score is sent to three of our reviewers. At least two ‘thumbs up’ are necessary for acceptance. The vetting is a significant one: approximately 60% acceptance rate. The entire process is quarter-annum, including public announcements of new acceptances. Each composer has h/her own P:E page, where partial score (composer’s choice of how much) and full sound file, along with composer biography and contact information are presented. Our job is to facilitate the connection, upon which, composer and conductor undertake purchase and acquisition independently. We have no further role, and receive no fees from any parties. (-though donations to help defray expenses are not turned away)
Who are these reviewers? Our highly-valued, necessarily ‘unsung’ heroes remain anonymous for the same reason that I, the Director and Founder of P:E am not a reviewer, myself: complete avoidance of both conflict of interest, and appearance of conflict of interest. Enthusiastic composers often share their excitement in making a submission with me (which is such fun!!) - and it is never a problem, since I am not a reviewer. Perhaps, someday, when we have 20 or 25 reviewers, we’ll think about making the list public. Should that take place, you will recognize every one! They truly are our heroes, contributing their time quarterly for no reason beyond their contribution to the the Choral Art. Many more than I are in your debt, Dear Reviewers.
~ Here to stay ~
PROJECT : ENCORE™ was given birth through the 501c3 organization of Schola Cantorum on Hudson, which continues to support its cost. It is, however, in every other way, an independent entity. Currently ongoing is the creation of a fully-functional ProjectEncore.org URL (currently in existence, but not with full function of the URL as housed within the Schola site). ETA: March of 2015.
From the start, P:E was established with longevity and credibility in mind. Reviewers agree to Confidentiality. Intellectual trademark was sought and granted. Logo was created and copywritten. We are here to stay, and believe the function of PROJECT : ENCORE is uniquely necessary in our wonderful world of expanding options, providing an artistic ‘good housekeeping seal of quality,’ as it were.
~ And Beyond That . . . ~
It is exceedingly satisfying each time we see yet another P:E composition receive another performance! We are five years old, and knowledge of the resource is spreading within the professional community increasingly. Time to shout ‘Mission accomplished?’
Well, . . . There is always more, as the world is always changing and growing and deepening. -and this is good! It’s not just ‘encore’ performances, though it is that. It’s about a mission that embraces the broad array of issues inherent in ever-expanding musical creativity and performance - issues such as performance rights (formerly handled through traditional publishers), promotion and legal sound file presentation (about which many well-intended performers are unaware; just look at YouTube!), etc. A task force is assembling currently to brainstorm some of these issues. We are here to stay, and seek to make a positive, and an expanding difference!
PROJECT : ENCORE™
-and this is good!
Next submission deadline: January 15
*My own view is that traditional publishers continue to play a valuable role. To the extent that the business model may incur new levels of negotation, as suggested by Paul, who among us does not make style and quality associations with various catalogues such as ECS, Santa Barbara, Oxford, Earthsong, etc. I continue to believe “it takes a village!”
** It is not ‘Deborah’s personal collection of favorite music’ - though I turn to P:E always when programming, and seldom do a concert without at least one P:E work!
Proudly Presenting These Excellent
PROJECT : ENCORE™ Composers
David W. Batchelor
Ross C. Bernhardt
Micaëla Larsen Brown
Giuseppe Di Bianco
John S. Dixon
Matthew H. Fields
Rachel DeVore Fogarty
Brian W. Holmes
Pertti Juho Jalava
Kyle T. Jones
Ben Jisoo Kim
Thomas Oboe Lee
Christopher M. Lee
Leonard Mark Lewis
Li Kai Han Jeremiah
Eduardo Andrés Malachevsky
Jerome W. Malek
Andrew Robert McBirnie
Polina Sergeevna Nazaykinskaya
Loretta K. Notareschi
Nicholas S. Omiccioli
Allan Robert Petker
Denice M. Rippentrop
Joseph N. Rubinstein
Brandon Michael Stewart
David Evan Thomas
Karen P. Thomas
Barbara K. Wesby
Roger H. Wesby