Do you have an idea for a concert you’d like to present, or participate in presenting, during a Cascadia Composers concert season? Cascadia’s programming committee typically starts meeting in November or December and takes several months to work out next season’s concerts. You might think that ideas for concerts only come from the board, but not so – for example, our recent Shades of Autumn concert developed simply from an idea presented informally to the programming committee by member Lisa Neher.

In an effort to facilitate member input to the board, and provide a reference for the committee, we’ve created a Google Form you can fill in with as many or as few (for a start) details about your proposed concert as you can think of.  Although the committee can work with you to help complete the form, the more complete you can make it, the better, of course. If you’ve been wondering just what motivates Cascadia Composers, in more detail than you can get from our mission statement, and just what actions the board engages in to fulfill that mission, then read on…. 

Why Cascadia, anyway?

Cascadia Composers exists primarily to enable public performances of members’ compositions, and in doing so, provide a desirable experience for our audience. On our website, you can read our mission: “We engage our community through the creation, performance, and promotion of contemporary musical art, while providing resources and opportunities to Cascadia composers.” Composers who already have a remunerative established market for their works are welcome as members of course, but even more, we exist for those who are at various levels of emergence, where Cascadia’s resources can make a difference in aid of arriving at the next level.

Many of us in the world of contemporary musical art have contemplated these two extremes: a renowned composer who gets everything taken care of by an interested performing organization and gets a check as a result, vs. an unknown composer facing the daunting prospect of putting on a concert entirely at their own expense and wondering if anyone but a handful of friends will show up. The former is simply not reality for most composers, and the latter is prohibitively expensive for most of us. Cascadia strives to bridge the extremes and provide a variety of opportunities in between.

In many cooperative ventures, we approach the first extreme, arranging for a performance at no member cost (beyond yearly dues) through an agreement with a group such as Choral Arts Ensemble. Since all Cascadia concerts are licensed by ASCAP and BMI, a member signed up with either will even eventually get a check, if maybe a smaller one than the renowned composer example above. Another such is our annual In Good Hands concert featuring student performers, where a very small composer fee pays for roses to give to performers and their teachers.

At a bit higher member cost, we arrange for performances in a twice-yearly member showcase concert mostly funded by Cascadia. Participating members pay an additional fee, currently $125 maximum. Members performed on one must sit out the next one, so they’d pay the fee at most once per year. There have also been concerts featuring special interest groups within our membership, such as women composers, who may require some fee from participants. Please note, depending primarily on the number of performers, the production cost of a piece on a typical Cascadia concert can range from about $300 to over $1000.

A member can also get a piece performed if they arrange for performer compensation. This gets closer to the self-produced extreme, but at least it’s only for one piece, not a whole concert. The piece can be part of a concert produced by the Cascadia board, or a concert presented by Cascadia Composers but produced and curated by a member or group of members independent of the board. Sometimes the phrase “composers and friends concert” is used, one thought being that performer friends might give a member a break on their fees… if not asked too often.

There are various types of these concerts, depending on who runs them and where the gate goes. The gate at a board-produced concert goes to Cascadia of course, or sometimes an independent curator / producer will put on a fund-raising concert for Cascadia’s benefit. More typically, the gate will offset independent producers’ expenses, along with a small grant from Cascadia. (Assistance including partial funding is available from Cascadia for independent curator concerts. Details vary depending on available resources and the number of such concerts approved by the Cascadia board; in recent years most non-performer expense has been covered.)

There are also, from time to time, cooperative productions with presenters in other arts, for which the terms are highly tailored to the event and can vary widely.