Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music: Composers’ Forums

After The Premiere

AUDIENCE QUESTION: My question relates to the last thing you said about after the premiere. If you have written a piece for a certain occasion or a specific ensemble, what do you do afterward? If it is going to be published or if it is going to be performed widely, do you look at it fresh? Or is it just done?

JORGE C"RDOBA: This piece required that for the premiere, I would have two rehearsals with the choir prior to the concert. Fortunately I didn’t have to change anything. They [the choir] did all that was requested on paper. I feel fortunate because it is a very good choir, and you got to hear a very good approach to my music, as it is written. Sometimes I have to change things, but that is not a common thing for my works. In the rehearsal, perhaps.

ALBERTO GRAU: In my case, I work to the contrary. I change things a lot, and after the premiere as well. I change things constantly. This is a real headache for my editor, but I think that sometimes I have better ideas, and just [need to make] changes. I feel very fortunate about Dale Warland’s patience because at these two rehearsals, he has been changing a lot! I feel very grateful that they [the choir] are coping with me. And after the premiere I am sure I will change things, and will have to fight with the editor again.

STEPHEN PAULUS: I am a sort of “It’s done” kind of guy, except for the operas, which will not be done until I am dead. Opera is such a large-scale form, and there always seems to be such a lot of people involved who have an opinion about what works. And you are dealing with drama and music and orchestra and singers and staging and lighting and wigs, and all of that. Everything else—after the premiere, if you’re going to hear a subsequent performance and you hear something and you think, “Did I write that?” and it doesn’t seem right… I’ve gone to a thing where I have had to say, “I know it’s printed, but that note ought to be an F natural, instead of a G.” If you’re a composer, you can get away with that.

TOM HALL: One of the issues that my composer friends lament is that we do the premiere, and then it never seems to be done again. Chorus America, which is an organization with which I have been working for a number of years (I serve on its board), used to have a program funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, in which we would do second and third performances of pieces that had been premiered. So the idea was to get the pieces in circulation so that the group who did the premiere did not do the second and third performances. Unfortunately, the funding for that dried up, and we are working to invigorate that program.

TOM HALL: Let me just take an omnibus poll here. How many of you have heard some of these premieres this week commissioned by IFCM and are planning to do them with your group?

TOM HALL: That’s great! That is one of the great legacies that this organization will leave.

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