In the spring of 1993, the MICCA Executive Board voted to support a commissioned works project. The Executive Board decided the focus of the first commission would be middle school band. It was agreed that there was a lack of new quality literature for this level and that it would be interesting to approach a composer who had not yet composed for students of this age. The first MICCA commission, The Playground Ball, by Kenneth Amis, received performances by three junior district festivals. Mr. Amis worked with the students in sectionals and in the full ensemble setting. He also spoke to the audiences regarding the musical content of the work and the importance for the students to engage in the "birth" of a new piece.
The project for the 1994-95 school year involved Nevada based composer, Lamont Downs. There was discussion and eventually agreement that there was a need in the literature for contemporary marches. The All-Eastern Band, Donald Hunsberger, conducting, premiered the E7A Concert March in 1995. The work was heard by hundreds of music educators at this prestigious high school music festival. In the fall of 1997 E7A was published and made available for worldwide distribution through the Donald Hunsberger Wind Library.
The next Commission Project focused on chamber music. The board felt it was important to commission chamber pieces representing a wide variety of ensembles including woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings and piano. An important component to this project was that the composers worked with the student ensemble that premiered their work. Three of the four composers were in attendance at the 1996 MMEA All-State Conference and spoke briefly about their pieces prior to the performances.
In September of 1996, MICCA discussed the possibility of commissioning a work for high school band and chorus. It was agreed that this was an area of the repertoire that had not been fully explored and that MICCA could make a contribution to the literature through this kind of commission. The MICCA Executive Board suggested that the text for the work should have some connection to Massachusetts. It was decided that the Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem Old Ironsides would be very appropriate and timely, as 1998 would mark the 200th Anniversary of the ship. Old Ironsides for chorus and band was premiered at the 1998 MMEA All-State Conference with the composer, Thomas C. Duffy, conducting.
The MICCA Executive Board feels strongly that there is a need for quality music written at the grade 1, 2 and 3 levels. We proudly presented the world premiere of Colors of Time, composed by Daniel P. Lutz at the 2001 MMEA All-State Conference.
In its' history, the MICCA Commissioned Works Project has produced nine works by eight composers. The works have been premiered at local, state, and eastern regional music educational events. Approximately 1200 students have had direct contact with the project through performances and sessions with the composers. In a relatively short time, the MICCA Commissioned Works Project has made a significant impact upon students and educators while contributing substantial and unique literature to the instrumental repertoire.
Commissioned Works Project
- Mike Keough
- MICCA President