Perspectives of the interaction between composer, student performer, and music educator: commissioned works in selected school ensembles
Ewing, Micah Hansen
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The purpose of this study was to examine and describe the process entailed in commissioning a new work for a high school music ensemble with a focus on the interpersonal relationships that exist among the student performers, their director, and the composer during a composer residency. With a multiple case study design, I examined the commissioned works projects of five cohorts that included one composer, three student performers, and one commissioning conductor. Each of the composers and commissioning conductors selected for participation in the study possessed extensive experience with commissioned works projects in school settings enabling them to draw on their past experience, as well as their experience working together on a commissioned work. The student performers were selected for the study based on their participation in a commissioned work project that included a composer residency with the commissioning conductor and commissioned composer associated with each cohort. Data was collected through interviews with the members of each cohort. Interview questions focused on understanding how each agent (student performer, music teacher, composer) contributes to the process of producing a new work through commission, how the interpersonal relationships between the agents function throughout the process, and how the outcomes of the process impact the agents’ experiences. The data gathered in the interviews was analyzed in light of these three foci and then re-examined to uncover themes common to multiple agents. Finally, the data was evaluated to determine how this information might shape future commissioning projects. I believe that the results of my investigation point to a greater understanding of the processes involved with the commissioning of a work, as well as the interpersonal relationships that exist within those processes. The results of my investigation formed a foundation for the construction of a concluding narrative providing step-by-step details that might be informative for music educators considering embarkation upon a commissioned work project.