Putting the “Us” in Music

Representation in music matters.

My research seeks to address equity in the twenty-first century double bass solo repertoire through an intersectional approach to living women composers that takes into account race, gender, class, age, nationality, etc. To accomplish this, I commissioned a selection of works by women composers representing diverse set of demographics and backgrounds, which will result in a premiere performance in 2021. There are still other avenues of diversity, equity, and inclusion that need to be addressed in double bass repertoire, academia, and many more voices (both composers and performers) that need to be heard.

To take on a similar project, I’ve included the steps I took below that helped bring a project like this to fruition.

Step 1: Determining a Project Budget and Fundraising

Connect with individual donors. According to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017, “Charitable giving was buoyed by individual giving, which rose $14.27 billion to an all-time high in 2017.” This report was researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, available online at

Be prepared to reach out to other individual donors via the strategies laid out by Tom Ahern in How to Write Fundraising Material That Raise More Money: The Art, the Science, the Secrets (Medfield, Massachusetts: Emerson & Church Publishers, 2018) and Penelope Burk in Donor-Centered Fundraising Donor-Centered Fundraising: How to Hold on to Your Donors and Raise Much More Money (Chicago: Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., 2013), 104-07.

Consult Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide (2009) produced by Meet the Composer, Inc. (now New Music USA) to determine a standard commission fee. This guide was recommended to me by several composers as I brainstormed this project. A more detailed guide is available here. In addition to this guide, you can review Johanna Keller’s An Individual’s Guide to Commissioning Music (2003), a published booklet that contained stories from eight individuals (ages 50+ with disposable income) and their commissioning experience. However, the commissioning costs mentioned in the booklet might be unrealistic for smaller projects. In my experience, all of the composers were willing to work within my more limited project budget.

Community centric fundraising movement (CFF). As mentioned on CFF website, while the majority of philanthropy in the US comes from individual donors, “traditional ways of fundraising uphold patriarchy, classism, white supremacy and other structural oppressions.” In addition to CFF movement, follow Vu Le’s blog Nonprofit AF and read Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love, a “collection of personal experiences written by Black fundraisers.”

Step 2: Discovering, Selecting, and Connecting with Composers

As said on their website, Institute for Composer Diversity operates within the School of Music at the State University of New York at Fredonia. The Institute has published the two online databases: “Composer Diversity Database” and the “Works Diversity Database.” You can search by selecting from basic criteria (living, deceased, gender, non-binary, etc.), genre (orchestra, chamber, etc.), demographic, and location in the “Composer Diversity Database.” This then directs you to a list of composers and their websites. I found this resource to be a useful first step in discovering composers from various backgrounds. For more information, visit

Step 3: Finding Published and Unpublished Works for Double Bass

More information coming soon…

Step 4: Commissioning Composers

More information coming soon…