I have been asked to write a new piece for the Imago festival, which I will be attending this May in Vienna, Austria. Imago was founded by Cardinal Christophe Schönborn of Vienna as an official outreach of the Church to foster Catholic art and artists.
Samples of my work
Details of the festival, project and timeline
Festival dates: May 1 – May 15, 2011
Instrumentation: Soprano, French Horn and Organ.
Text: Sacred poetry of St. Hildegard von Bingen
Duration: 5-8 minutes
Premiere: In the second week of the Imago festival in the heart of Vienna.
Timeline for composition: April 11-25, email parts to performers; rehearsals during the first week of festival.
Timeline for fundraising: March 21-April 12
Funds needed for completion: $1,250 U.S.
Purpose of funds
To cover some minor production costs (copies, binding, proofreading) and to defray living expenses for our family during the time of composition (note: all our income comes from my work as a freelance composer, teacher and cantor).
Complete description (video transcript)
Greetings to you! My name is Brian J. Nelson, a classically-trained composer living and working in the Kansas City area. I’m coming before you today to humbly ask for your support for a new piece I am writing, to be premiered in Vienna, Austria this May. Let me begin with a little background:
This past December, I was contacted by Elizabeth Zeller, a wonderful visual artist in this area, and also the U.S. representative of Imago, a Catholic Arts organization based in Vienna, Austria. Imago was founded by Cardinal Christophe Schoenbern of Vienna as an official outreach of the Church to foster Catholic art and artists. Imago is a membership organization which puts on an annual festival in Vienna. Elizabeth invited me to apply to be a member and attend the festival this May. Happily, I was accepted and will be attending the festival which runs from May 1 to May 15. In addition to performing two of my existing works, the director of the festival has also invited me to compose a new piece for them, for Soprano, Organ and French Horn, setting some religious poetry by St. Hildegard von Bingen. As the first-ever American participant in the event, the director thought this would be a lovely gesture of friendship and good will, and I certainly agree.
Apart from some minor production expenses, the $1250 I am raising through Kickstarter will be used primarily to defray expenses for myself and my family during the time where I am actually writing the piece. As you can well imagine from your own life, completing a project like this takes time (about 120 hours in this case) and doesn’t stop the bills from arriving in the mailbox and over the email. Writing this piece will also mean turning down other freelance work during those two and a half weeks, and hence the need to raise money to cover the deficit.
I am offering some rewards for various levels of contribution:
➣ First, at a very affordable $10, you will receive a signed copy of the score for the piece, along with a CD of the premiere performance.
➣ Second, at the $20 level, you will receive the reward just described for level 1, but you’ll also receive a complimentary copy of my 2009 professional CD release Responsorial Psalms for Advent and Christmas. This is a recording of antiphonal psalms for Cantor, Organ and Choir, setting texts from the Lectionary. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Lectionary is the “master set” of readings used in the Mass. You can sample tracks from this CD at the website listed in the rewards section above.
➣ Third, at the level of $30, you will receive the rewards just described for levels 1 & 2, but you will also receive a complimentary copy of my 2010 CD release, Vocalise – Instrumental and Vocal Music of Brian J. Nelson. This is a collection of my chamber, choral and solo vocal music. On it you’ll hear wonderful performances of pieces for solo cello, violin and piano, full chorus and more. This CD recently received a very favorable review in Fanfare Magazine and was also recently accepted in the Pandora radio catalogue.
Let me emphasize here that you can contribute any amount to this project, from $1 on up. But if your contribution falls within these levels or above you will receive the rewards just described.
Finally, I want to spend just a few minutes talking about the tradition of artistic patronage and how excited I am about this mutual endeavor. One thing that really struck me when I discovered Kickstarter.com is that they were both reviving and revising the tradition of artistic patronage: Reviving it in the sense of creating a way for projects to be funded that doesn’t involve large, impersonal bureaucracies. While there is certainly a place for such funding organizations, their size and somewhat faceless interaction with artists and groups in the application process tends to create a sense of distance between the patron and the artist (not to mention the eventual audience) that is ultimately unhealthy. Kickstarter.com brings this relationship back much closer to one-to-one as it should be.
However, Kickstarter is also revising the tradition of artistic patronage. During much of the past several hundred years, patronage of the arts was largely limited to kings, noblemen or other very rich persons. The thought of a regular person supporting the arts in this way scarcely crossed people’s minds because it was out of reach to all but the wealthiest in society. Kickstarter has changed all that by tapping into the artist’s natural network of family, friends and colleagues. By splitting up the fundraising into bite size chunks, they have opened up the process to regular people like you and me.
And so, finally, I invite you to join with me in this exciting opportunity to be part of the creation of a new and beautiful piece of music. A piece that will not only be a blessing to the people at the Imago festival, but to many others over the years as the piece is performed and recorded. How exciting to be part of creating something beautiful; something beautiful for God and humanity.
I thank you so much for your consideration of this project and I welcome and questions you may have. Please feel free to contact me at any time. God-willing, I look forward to working together on this exciting project!
Brian J. Nelson - Composer
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