What is a commissioned work?

Whether you need an anthem for a specific text or event at your church, a special concert piece, a work to commemorate a life, or just want to be a part of the creative process, you can commission a work from a living composer. The act of commissioning not only gives you a chance to have a piece written specifically for your needs, but also makes you a supporter of new artistic endeavors. If you are interested in having me write a piece for your ensemble, please feel free to use the contact form (you can also email me at, as sometimes the form thinks real people are spam) so that we can talk about your needs. You can suggest a text or a scripture for me to set, or a theme that you would like me to explore in a newly composed text. Some examples of works that were born out of commissions are as follows:


Light of the World

Commissioned by the 2017 Fine Arts Series, Littleton United Methodist Church, Littleton, Colorado; David Kates, Director of Music and Fine Arts


The Stranger's Guise

Commissioned by First Presbyterian Church, Lexington, Kentucky, and Northminster Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, for the 2022 Presbyterian Association of Musicians Worship and Music Conference at Montreat, North Carolina


Covenant Prayer

Commissioned in honor of the 45th anniversary of Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, Carrollton, TX, September 15, 2019


My Heart Shall Sing

For the Chancel Choir of Mandarin United Methodist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, Austen Wilson, Director of Music & Worship Arts

Austen wrote a little about the experience of commissioning this piece in his blog for ACDA's ChoralNet!


The Peace to Come

Commissioned by the Edward D Anderson Choral Scholars Fund with great gratitude to Dr Morris Stevens and members of the joyous and enduring choirs of St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Austin, TX



Commissioned by the Zia Singers, Santa Fe, NM; Aaron Howe, Artistic Director


What does a Commission Cost?

A good resource for calculating expected fees, based on the size of the ensemble and the estimated length of the work, can be found here. Keep in mind that the linked site refers to Canadian dollars, so the American dollar equivalent would be slightly lower. For example, as of this writing, the suggested fee for an SATB work with piano accompaniment would be more like $480 per minute in American currency. Those current pricing norms stated, I do want to collaborate with you and work within your budget- so please feel free to contact me with your needs and parameters. When inquiring about a commission, some things I will need to know are as follows: 

What performing forces are desired? Is this to be a solo work, a piece for choir, or a piece for instruments? If this is a choral work (as is generally the case) is it for SATB, SAB, SSA, etc.? Will there be an accompaniying keyboard instrument (and are any additional accompanying instruments desired)?

Do you have a specific text or theme in mind? I can set a text already in existence, or I can create a text based on a theme, scripture, occasion, etc. A few examples: the text of “The Peace to Come” was written based on sciptures appointed for the second Sunday of Advent. The commissioning choir of “Covenant Prayer” was asked to submit thoughts on what they felt was the spirit or identity of their church, and the text was written based on those contributions. The original portions of the text of “My Heart Shall Sing” were written based on a specific section of the Magnificat, with particular attention paid to the examples of upending. If you would like me to set the text of another person, please keep in mind that copyright permissions may be required.

What is the occasion? Is this for a church service, a concert, to honor an individual, etc.? Keep in mind that you will be able to choose an inscription for your piece.

What is your time frame? Consider when you will want this piece to be performed, as well as how long you will need to rehearse the new piece. I will always want to be sure to deliver a final version of a piece to you well before your first rehearsal.

What is your budget? The above resource can give you a good idea of what a 3-4 minute church anthem for SATB and piano will likely cost, but composers can often be flexible if necessary.

Many, but not all, of these things will help me come up with a fee (or fee range) for the proposed piece; all will help me to allot the necessary time for your project.


Wow, Karen, this is incredible. How can I start this process?

You are a wise individual. Contact me using the form below and let me know if I can answer any questions or help us get the ball rolling.