Commissioning Project: Build Your Own Repertoire

Just over a year ago, when PCB was still just a gleam in my eye, I had an idea. It stemmed from my desire to really advance the brass quintet in its micro-genre and in the macro-genre of chamber music. What I noticed about other groups in the chamber music world was that composers were writing music for them. Kronos, Eighth Blackbird, the Ahn Trio—they all had notable composers writing for them. I also noticed there were very few brass ensembles in that list.

Brass quintet is caught in a strange middle ground: our ensemble in particular is too new to have repertoire from really far back, but also too new in general to have the weight of tradition behind it. Yes, there are composers writing for the genre of brass quintet, but much of it was written in the academic world—meaning much of it is not readily accepted by general listeners.

So my idea was this: connect with young, not-yet-noticed composers. Commission a piece, thereby promoting their name and our group. And then maintain a long relationship with these composers, as they become the big names of tomorrow, in theory creating more and more repertoire for the brass quintet and furthering its notoriety.

Great idea, right? But where to start. Well, PCB started where it makes sense to start—with people we know. All of us went to large music schools across the country and met many composers along the way, most of them pretty good. (Also, if you happen to be lucky enough to be dating a composer, that can also come in handy for a project like this.)

Next you have to approach these people with an offer. By working with composers who were still up and coming, PCB was able to create an offer that did not hinge upon dollars. In exchange for their compositions, we offered them professional quality recordings of their new pieces, with the added possibility of their pieces being included on a full-length album.

And guess what? We’re working on an album’s worth of premiere material, and it’s fantastic. Here’s one sample.  And here’s another. See you in the practice room!


  1. Awesome, man! Let me know when I can buy a copy.

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