Welcome all! This year composer Michael Rickelton is creating a collection of art songs entitled Norfolk Letters for baritone Ross Tamaccio and a consortium of singers of all voice types, pianists, and art song enthusiasts. Below you will find information about the work, deadlines, and pricing. Still have questions about the consortium? Let me know!
Consortium members will commission a new 14-piece suite for voice and piano including 10 songs and 4 solo piano pieces (listed below). Four of these songs and one piano piece will be premiered by baritone/lead commissioner Ross Tamaccio, and pianist Hsiao-Ying Lin in a special recital on February 26, 2024 on the F. Ludwig Diehn Concert Series at Old Dominion University.
Norfolk Letters is a new collection of art songs setting letters contained in the Norfolk Armed Forces Memorial in Norfolk, VA, USA. Honoring fallen soldiers for over 25 years, the Norfolk Armed Forces Memorial steadfastly commemorates the lives of all those who died serving their nation in times of war. The letters, penned by fallen soldiers that live on in memoriam in Downtown Norfolk, will now be heard in new musical settings for voice and piano.
Erected in the summer of 1998 at Town Point Park in Downtown Norfolk, the monument consists of 22 cast bronze letters scattered along the waterfront as if blown by the wind. Artists Maggie Smith and James Cutler curated a collection of letters conveying diverse emotional experiences, offering a glimpse into the humanity of the soldier's experience, and the effects of their service on loved ones back home. Find out more about the memorial on the Norfolk Arts webpage.
The memorial is dedicated to the veterans of American conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the War in Afghanistan. Norfolk Letters: Book 1 contains letters dating 1776 through 1918. Ten songs are contained in book 1 along with an opening piano prelude and three piano intermezzi, offering reflections on extracted texts from the letters. This is a unique collection of pieces designed for all voice types. The vocal lines will live mostly on the staff so they are approachable for any voice type, and offering ossia for even more flexibility.
The performance order of the pieces is not fixed, but presented here in chronological order:
2. ...We are on our guard
3. My regards to you and our child
4. I want now [to] take up my pen
5. Intermezzo (If I should never return)
6. The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days
7. ....On the last day of the fine weather
8. We are on the march to Fort Wagner, to storm it
9. Intermezzo (The bullets fairly rained around us)
10. I take my time to write a few lines
11. No doubt a letter written from this place will take you greatly by surprise
12. Even the trenches can be beautiful
13. Intermezzo (keeping not only head but also the rest of me carefully DOWN during the process)
14. My girl, my girl, how I do miss you
Consortium launch: Monday, January 22, 2024
Consortium launch recital: Monday, February 26, 2024 - Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
Consortium closes: Monday, March 25, 2024
Completed work delivered: April 1, 2025 (individual pieces likely much earlier)
Exclusive performance rights for all consortium members: Through May 31, 2026.
Tier 1 - COMMISSIONING PARTNER: Claim a piece as your own – $425 - Collaborate with the composer to create a piece written specifically for you! ONLY 9 AVAILABLE (6 songs and 3 piano solos). You will have the option to choose one of six letters not premiered at our February 2024 launch recital at Old Dominion University, and work directly with the composer who will compose the piece for you. This tier includes...
Tier 2 - CONSORTIUM MEMBER – $115 - Receive exclusive performance rights through May 31, 2026. This tier includes...
Tier 3 - SUPPORTER / ART SONG ENTHUSIAST – $80 - This tier includes...
Tier 4 - STUDENT CONSORTIUM MEMBER – Pay what you can $45-$114 - Open to any current, full-time student, at any educational institution, at any level. This tier includes...
What is a commissioning consortium? A commissioning consortium helps individual performers, ensembles, and institutions commission new music. Individuals and organizations come together to help a composer reach their commissioning fee. This allows the consortium members to support the composer's work and receive first access to the music. Commissioning new works as an individual can often be difficult, but joining a consortium allows you to bring new music to life without going at it alone.
What voice type will these songs be written for? These songs will be written with multiple voice types in mind, living mostly on the staff so they are approachable for any voice type. When a song does span beyond the tessitura for a particular voice type, ossia will be written to accommodate all voices.
I'm a pianist. Can I join the consortium? ABSOLUTELY! The consortium is open to singers, pianists, and art song enthusiasts. My piano parts are in no way an "accompaniment" to the voice. They exist as an integral collaborator with the voice. The collection will also consist of a solo piano prelude, and three solo piano intermezzi serving as reflections on specific lines in the letters.
I'm not a singer or a pianist. Can I join the consortium to commission a piece for a specific singer/pianist? ABSOLUTELY! Simply choose the tier you would like for the performer. This is a very common way to commission new music. Patrons like you are what allow performers and composers to create new art. Thank you!
Are the letters gender specific? Some letters do contain gendered language, however, unlike some song sets, the performer is not embodying the voice of the writer as a character. Therefore, it is acceptable for all songs to be performed by any gender.
How does the timeline work? After launching in mid January 2024, the consortium will close on Monday, March 25 (if you wish to join the consortium after this date, then please reach out and we'll work it out!). After that, I will begin composing, working directly with those who claimed pieces as their own. Here is where you can have even more control - Plan a recital and I will work to ensure your piece is finished in time. My goal is to have several pieces finished by the end of August for programming around Veteran's Day in November. In very special cases, I may even be able to accommodate a Memorial Day recital (May 27, 2024). If you have a recital in mind, let's chat. I do generally work fast and can likely accommodate your schedule. No matter what, all 10 songs and 4 piano solos will be delivered to the consortium members no later than April 1, 2025. At that point your one-year exclusivity right begins!
What if I have questions about the music? Please reach out to me! You should feel free to contact me at any point as you're learning the music. We can correspond via email, chat on the phone, or possibly even meet via Zoom or in person to discuss the music.
Am I required to perform the piece during the one-year exclusivity time? You can perform the piece whenever you would like. As a consortium member, you will have the exclusive performance rights for one year after the delivery date, but you have no obligation to perform the work within the appointed time frame.
Is the consortium fee refundable? The consortium fee is non-refundable; please take that into account when you register.
I can't sign up through the PayPal link. My organization requires a more traditional invoice. Can we still join the consortium? Please let me know if you or your organization need a traditional invoice payable by mailed check, a customized PayPal invoice, and/or any other information in order to join.
Lulled by the drift of rain from Time and Memory: suite for voice and piano on poems of William S. Trout
Intermezzo (Reflection on "Abendrot") from Time and Memory: suite for voice and piano on poems of William S. Trout
In Flanders Fields from Battle Songs
Parts of Summer Weather from Impossible Season
If you would, please take a moment to share this project with colleagues, and post on social media using #NorfolkLetters. I'm excited to share this music with you!