Seattle Commissioning Club
The Seattle Commissioning Club was founded in 2006 to commission classical music from established and emerging composers.
Our inspiration was the Minnesota Commissioning Club, which pioneered this novel and personal approach to commissioning. We have followed their advice to have "just enough people to fit comfortably around a dining room table.” Good food and wine, we’ve found, is extremely helpful in the decision making process because it isn’t easy for amateurs to decide what kind of music to choose, which composer, which instrument or even which musician to play the piece.
It is truly exciting to help bring a new piece of music to life and it has been our pleasure and delight to listen to the composers and musicians talk to us about their work, their thoughts, and ideas. Our one stipulation for commissioning a piece of music has been to be able to meet with the composer while the work is in progress, just to be involved and informed.
Here is a short article about our group published in the Seattle Times after our first commission in 2008. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about our experiences and lessons learned.
OUr music in the news...
Vine’s sixth quartet “Child’s Play” was commissioned with the support of recently retired Musica Viva Chairman Michael Katz and his wife Frédérique Katz, The Seattle Commissioning Club, who are long-time friends of the Quartet, and Carnegie Hall, where the group is a frequent visitor and where a future performance of the piece is already scheduled.
From the quietly dissonant opening of Play, the quartet draws on the behaviour and moods of children to create a charmingly uplifting – though never saccharine – suite of movements.
The music has an appealing, easy-listening quality that alternates between bustling, playful rhythms and soothing calmness. Sleep, as one might expect, is portrayed with beautiful gentle sonorities underpinning melodic lines of simple elegance.
"It's about the childishness in all of us and that sort of wide-eyed innocence. So I took five elements of childishness or of that unbridled passion that we can tap on. The other thing about the title is that it's mildly ironic. Frequently when you say that something is 'child's play' it's really rather complex so there's a combination of that irony but also a fascination with simple wishes."
Abbie Betinis’s Rhapsodos is a voyage of melodies and textures that will quickly find a place in the recital repertoire, for it’s expressive, dramatic and playable. Listeners and critics alike will enjoy this piece. The audience yesterday responded immediately to its narrative, which plays with Odysseus’s journey in a way that somehow manages to embrace the epic and the intimate.
Willis and the orchestra welcome the opportunity to present the world premiere of Ott’s original score, “In Pieces”, which commemorates the city for its support of the arts. It is a pure, symphonic, 18-minute work performed in three movements. The work, which the Seattle Commissioning Club entrusted especially to the Auburn Symphony, is a reflective arrangement of optimistic and dark times in society.
The music combines short interludes and vignettes with more complex structures. There was a wide range moods and styles in the quartet writing, from passages reminiscent of Bartok and Janacek in a piece like Through Mist to Copland and Ives Americana in First Light. Two of the interludes had a boldly stated melody on a lower instrument pitted against frenetic high harmonics. Other devices from the string trick-box were smears and scordatura. The Escher Quartet traversed the styles and captured the shifting moods with energy and panache.
Zimmerli takes familiar elements from 19th-century classical music and the standard sequences of jazz and pop, adds ethnic influences and has a sharp talent for a catchy tune. In this, his music is somewhat cinematic. His motifs are meticulously developed and his textures atmospheric, yet at the Wigmore, where he conducted, he seemed a little diffident about the mix of genres: “I’m not quite sure what I’m doing tonight,” he announced after the first number, “Flash.”
Heggie’s brand-new song cycle, This Is My Beloved, got a tremendous performance from Gilfry (who sang the challenging 20-minute work without a score), accompanied by the composer at the piano and two other instrumentalists, violinist Andres Cardenes and cellist Anne Martindale Williams. Based on a book of erotically charged poems by Walter Benton (1907-76), the song cycle (like the book) traces the arc of a love affair from the first rush of joyous emotion to the lonely resignation of the end.
Novacek’s 35-minute piece with a hectic, assertive cluster of jazzy elements played with brio by the composer and cellist Michelle Djokic. The stinging dissonances were refreshing after Zimmerli’s sweetness, and the hymn-like final movement left in its wake a shared silence as beautiful as any music.