Help! New Music Service Organizations Answer the Call

One of the most well-known supporting organizations for new music is Meet The Composer (MTC). MTC’s precursor, Composer in Performance (CIP), was established in 1969 by a group of New York City composers with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1974, Meet The Composer was inaugurated with John Duffy as Program Director. In the next four years, Meet The Composer grew from a New York State-based program to one of national prominence, and in July of 1978, Meet The Composer became incorporated as a separate non-profit entity under the leadership of Duffy. Its programs grew to include commissioning, residency, education, and audience interaction programs.

The President of MTC, Heather Hitchens, sees her “main objective as two-fold: [Number one is to] expand and build up Meet The Composer’s core commissioning and residency programs. [Number two is to] develop new initiatives that create new opportunities for composers work and that advance the art form of music composition.”

The current commissioning programs include Commissioning Music/USA, New Music for Schools, New Residencies, and the Meet The Composer Fund, which awards grants enabling composers to actively participate in performances of their own work, including performing, conducting, lecturing, workshops, interviews, and coachings. In addition, MTC and the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) have announced Music Alive, a composer residency program aimed at orchestras. Hitchens states that MTC is developing “a program to support U.S.-based and international collaborative commissions between composers and creative artists in other disciplines. This would revitalize and expand Meet The Composer’s former Composer/Choreographer and International Creative Collaborations Initiative.”

Since 1988, the New Music for Schools program has fostered an appreciation of new music at an early age. Funded composers work with students in primary and secondary schools residencies, in time frames from two to six months, encouraging creativity while composing pieces for the children to play and sing. New Residencies bring together performing and presenting organizations with community groups to work with a resident composer for three years. The composers create works to celebrate local culture and represent the lives of the people, while teaching and organizing special events. Commissioning Music/USA is a joint project with the National Endowment for the Arts, supporting not-for-profit performing and presenting organizations in the commissioning of new works.

As President of MTC, Hitchens has a vision: “I would like to see Meet The Composer utilize its immense expertise on a much broader base. While our core re-granting programs will continue to be very important and responsive to needs in the field, I believe there is an equally important proactive role for Meet The Composer to play, and a demand/need for our expertise, particularly within the corporate community and among individual patrons. The increase in demand for original music for film scores and documentaries, the now pervasive use of new music on the Internet, the use of new music within corporations to accomplish organizational objectives such as the Michael Eisner/Disney Commissioning Project, and an increasing number of individuals expressing an interest in commissioning new work to celebrate special occasions, are all important and exciting indications of this assumption. Meet The Composer will actively stimulate this demand which I think will lead to a dramatic redefinition and expansion of the new music field, enhancement of the artistic content of our culture, new settings for composers to work, and larger and more appreciative audiences for new work.”

From Help! New Music Service Organizations Answer the Call
by Karissa Krenz
© 1999 NewMusicBox