The Hartt School has formed an institute called ASPIRE (Advancement of Secondary and Primary Instrumental Repertoire Excellence) which has the mission of commissioning the world’s finest composers to write for primary and secondary school bands.
More information can be found at: http://www.glenadsit.com/aspire/
The following message comes from Glen Adsit, Director of Bands at the Hartt School:
Advancement of Secondary and Primary Instrumental Repertoire Excellence)
I am announcing the formation of the NWECG middle and high school commissioning group and institute at the Hartt School called ASPIRE, the Advancement of Secondary and Primary Instrumental Repertoire Excellence.
The purpose of ASPIRE is to commission well-known composers who have not significantly contributed to the high school and middle school repertoire. I am seeking a 5-year ($1,500.00 total) commitment from at least two high schools and two middle schools in every state. With 200+ schools participating, I think we could commission four composers each year to write a 4-10 minute work each. I propose that every year, we commission four compositions: grade two, three, four and five. Of course if we have greater participation than expected we could commission more works. If we have fewer than expected we will only commission a couple of pieces a year.
As I see it, there are a few unique challenges with this proposal. I suspect that many if not all of the composers we might like to ask probably have no idea what grade levels are. With that in mind, I propose we match a composer with a board member or board designate who knows what grade levels are. Furthermore, we would specify to the composer in his/her contract that he/she must conform to the technical demands of the proposed commission and run any questionable content by the assigned board member or board designee for input.
It is possible that some composers may react negatively to this. On the other hand, our young students deserve appropriate and quality literature to play and this seems like it might have a shot at working. Perhaps the professional rate fee may have an influence on their decision to work collaboratively with someone.
As I did with the collegiate group (NWECG) I have already formed an artistic board of directors comprised of some of the finest educators from across the country that include public school teachers, collegiate music educators, and a professional composer who regularly writes for young bands. Service to this board is unpaid. The following educators have agreed to serve on the board (their bios are included a the end of this email):
- Glen Adsit, Director of Bands, The Hartt School
- Michael Colgrass, Composer
- Brian Downey, Director of Bands, Las Vegas Academy
- Cheryl Floyd, Director of Bands, Hill Country Middle School, Austin Texas
- Dick Floyd, Texas State Director of Music Emeritus
- Robert Myers, Coordinator of Fine Arts, Arlington ISD, Arlington, Texas
- Todd Nichols, Director of Bands, Roxbury high School, Roxbury New Jersey
- Matt Temple, Director of Bands, New Trier High School, Winnetka, Illinois
- David Vandewalker, Assistant Director of Bands, Georgia State University
- Todd Zimbelman, Director of Bands West Salem High School, Salem-Keizer, Oregon
I will advertise the formation of this group in all 50 states with the goal of securing participation from at least two high schools and two middle schools from every state in the country. With 2 high schools and two middle schools each contributing $300 a year for five years we would have $300,00 total to commission composers. Generally each commission would, on average, cost $12,000 and that would mean we could commission nearly 20 works over the span of the five years and have a small budget to cover the cost of the composer to attend the board-chosen workshop premiere performance.
Given the success of the collegiate initiative, I am confident that this could grow far bigger than the goals I have stated.
As is the case with the collegiate group, all funds are run through a restricted account at The Hartt School and 100% of the collected funds are used on the commission process. Nobody involved will be receiving a salary for this initiative and the University of Hartford will audit all accounts.
Once the membership is finalized, all members will have the opportunity to nominate potential composers for the commissions. Those nominations would then be passed on to the ASPIRE Artistic Board of Directors who will be responsible for the final selection of composers.
Composers will then be contacted with the description of the requested piece (difficulty level, length, instrumentation, etc.) and will have to agree to partner with an assigned board member or board designate that would help guide the composer regarding the appropriateness of the composition for the age group. This is one of the major differences between this initiative and the similar initiatives of the past. It is possible that some composers may not be interested in this project because they do not want to work with a collaborator but those that do will be committed to writing creative works appropriate for young musicians.
Contracts will be issued for the composers that have accepted the invitation with a description of the composition proposed, the assigned board designate and the financial and delivery terms. Each composer will deliver the finished score and parts to me via PDF, and I will forward them to the membership.
Once the group has selected the composers and agreed upon a delivery date, the board will work on a high profile premiere. Hopefully the premiere will include the composer going into the school to work with the students on the composition. Each member of the consortium (hopefully 100 members) would have a one-year exclusive world premiere rights. Once the year has passed the composer can publish the work for public sale for general purchase.