Commission new music

I’m better at writing music than I am at writing statements about why you should commission me. I hope you like some of the music below: if you do, get in touch and let’s talk about writing a new piece.

Latest commission: Answer The Question
“I am absolutely delighted by it. The elevation of the simple exam instruction has become something utterly compelling. It is piercingly crisp, haunting, complex, and feels like a piece for our times (all at the risk of sounding patronising – you and the singers are clearly expert at this kind of composition and execution). I have shared this with colleagues and the response has been unanimously positive. Thank you so much for rendering the humble and forgotten algebra exam into something genuinely remarkable.” – Graeme Hawley, National Library of Scotland (commissioned Answer The Question as part of their Creative Exam Re-sits project)

We Are One Voice
“It was very successful – we had 5 choirs in each of the three remaining concerts, and they performed well… The first concert was the most successful in terms of your song – most of the choirs had learnt the middle section, so we could perform it in its entirety. The other two concerts we only did the outer sections. I rehearsed it with them all together (in front of the audience) first, to check over the difficult bits, and then we did a performance. Lots of people said that they’d really enjoyed singing it together, and at the end the church was really ringing with the sound.” – Jane Smith, director, Beaconsfield Festival of Choirs

Recent commissions:

  • Answer The Question for the National Library of Scotland’s Exam Re-sits Project, performed by the Reid Consort (April 2018) – funded by the National Library
  • I brought your name to the river for the Edinburgh Singers (March 2018), partly funded by Creative Scotland – see a sample score with piano reduction. Funded by Creative Scotland (I wrote most of the application – I’m always happy to help out with funding applications!) Hear it below:
  • We Are One Voice for Beaconsfield Choir Festival (March 2018) – score and recordings here
  • The Birlinn for Napier University Chamber Choir – premiered on November 12th 2017 in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh by Napier Chamber Choir. Scores and more recordings at this page. This was also given a second performance by London City Chorus on 6th July 2018, and they will be taking it on tour to the Isle of Man later in 2018. Hear it below:
  • Adeste Fideles – a Christmas piece for Wimbledon Choral Society (conducted by Neil Ferris), premiered December 2016, generously funded by Ronnie and Sue Dunbar): SSAATBB accompanied by organ – second performance given December 2017 by the Edinburgh Singers. Listen below:

    “I am really delighted with the carol for WCS and we are all looking forward to performing in December. It has all you could want for a carol; jaunty rhythms, beautiful harmonies and a noisy finish! They really enjoyed the first look at this last night, thanks for a lovely piece.” Neil Ferris, Wimbledon Choral Society
    You can order “Adeste Fideles” from MusicSpoke.
  • Janya, a 2016 commission for the Jan Modelski Community Orchestra in Chester, premiered July 2016. See my blog on the Adopt A Composer project for more details. Now available for flexible orchestra – contact me for a score! – or Making Music members can get it for free at the Making Music website.
    Listen to an excerpt here:

    “It was fantastic and the group seemed to love performing it, it suited them so well and pushed them into new areas (loved the sound effects)”
    “The piece by the young composer was absolutely brilliant and the orchestra played it beautifully! It seemed as if he composed it using the orchestra’s constellation eg strong brass section as a strength. I loved it”
  • Mary Morison – an arrangement for SSATB choir for the Deutscher Chor of London (conducted by Barbara Hoefling), which was premiered in Buckingham Palace in October 2016. See the score – listen below:

If you’d like to discuss works for your choir or performing group, please get in touch. My work includes writing for choirs at all levels, and I am able to write suitable pieces for groups performing at any level, from beginners and children’s choirs to professional choirs and orchestras.

“I am really delighted with the carol for WCS and we are all looking forward to performing in December. It has all you could want for a carol; jaunty rhythms, beautiful harmonies and a noisy finish! They really enjoyed the first look at this last night, thanks for a lovely piece.” Neil Ferris, Wimbledon Choral Society

“Chris collaborated with lyricist Julia Laylander to tailor a piece specifically to my choir’s needs. Text and instrumentation were unique to our choir and program theme. The piece was challenging but attainable stretching the limits of my young singers. It was a huge success and I am grateful for him accepting my commission.” – Jack Senzig, conductor in Wisconsin

“Very many thanks for your anthem; it was tremendously well-received this morning, and so many people said to me… how much they enjoyed it, and how effective they had found it. I think a lot of people were really moved by it. Congratulations” – Michael Harris, Master of the Music, St Giles’ Cathedral

I can work with your budget; if you’d like a commission but can’t put much money towards it, I will still be willing to write a piece for you if you’re willing to apply for funding to make up the shortfall. I will write the piece whether the funding applications are successful or not.

Rates start from a few hundred pounds for a five-minute choir piece (a piece for unison choir and organ/piano accompaniment, or a cappella SATB choir, would be around £400 for five minutes; more for a large choir with a complex organ accompaniment). I’m happy to work with your group’s budget, and can suggest several sources for further funding. My usual way of working is to find a price that you can afford, ask you to apply for funding for (at least) the difference between that price and the market rate, and write the piece anyway regardless of the results of funding applications. So if you can only afford £200 but want a piece that I’d usually charge £500 for, I ask you to apply for the £300 from at least one funding body (ideally more than one) and I’ll write the piece whether you get that extra £300 of funding or not.

There are several UK organisations which are willing to fund commissions: the PRS For Music Foundation Awards, the Leche Trust, the RVW Trust, Creative Scotland, the Bliss Trust and the Britten-Pears Foundation are just some of these (I have received funding from the latter three in the past, which would bode well for any further applications).

(If you’d like a guideline on typical market rates, here are some guidelines for Britain from the Incorporated Society of Musicians and for the USA from Meet the Composer USA. Bear in mind that this is not the amount I will ask you to pay, only the amount that I will ask you to apply for funding to cover!)

Some of my pre-2016 commissions below:

  • It’s Raining and Under The Wide And Starry Sky – for NYCOS’s 3-4-5-note Songbook series, publication coming soon
  • O Clavis David – a commission for the Quodlibet Chorale in Edinburgh. See the score here. Hear a recording:
  • 3 Churches Communion Setting – commissioned by Greyfriars Kirk, Augustine United Reformed Church and St Columba’s by the Castle, three churches in Edinburgh. It’s in a Celtic-flavoured idiom, accompanied by organ, and can be sung by an SATB choir, a unison congregation/choir, or both together. You can see the score here. Recording below:
  • O Praise The Lord, Ye Angels Of His – commissioned by the Friends of the Music of St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh (partly-professional church choir). “Once again, very many thanks for your anthem; it was tremendously well-received this morning, and so many people said to me at the reception how much they enjoyed it, and how effective they had found it. I think a lot of people were really moved by it. Congratulations” – Michael Harris, Master of the Music. Hear the piece here! The choir have also recorded it on their CD “O Clap Your Hands”.
  • Compline – for St Mary’s Schola, Arlington, Virginia (professional church choir). Premiered at the Association of Anglican Musicians’ Annual Conference, Washington DC, in June 2014. ““Really stunning! Thank you, Chris, for a really expressive and wonderful work that will contribute to the repertoire for Compline in an important and innovative way” – Gregory Hooker, director of music, St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Arlington.
    Listen to “The Lord’s Prayer”, part of the setting: