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Miller Announces Mission: Commission Podcast


A six-episode, free weekly podcast demystifying the process of how classical music gets made.

Follow the creative journey of three composers who have been given six weeks to create a newly commissioned piece of music. 

In New York, Marcos Balter writes for harpist Parker Ramsay
In New Orleans, Courtney Bryan writes for trombonist Andrae Murchison and herself on piano
In Chicago, Augusta Read Thomas writes for percussionist John Corkill

Hosted by Melissa Smey, Executive Director of Miller Theatre

In fall 2020, Miller Theatre invited Balter, Bryan, and Thomas—three fascinatingly different composers stylistically—to each write a new piece of music in six weeks, checking in with podcast host Melissa Smey weekly to discuss their unique processes along the way. Like an audio diary, listeners will get a rare inside look as an artist creates—from the blank page, to inspiration, risk-taking and hard work, to the finished product. 

"It’s like the messiest kitchen ever, with a thousand frying pans going on at the same time and things popping in the toaster and microwaves beeping everywhere, and somehow, a dish comes out of it.” — Marcos Balter in Episode Three of Mission: Commission

The result is a dialogue about music creation that ventures into joy, frustration, and humor—and just being a human during a global pandemic. Recordings of the final pieces will be shared at the conclusion of the podcast, on Tuesday, May 18.

For twenty years, Miller Theatre’s flagship concert series, Composer Portraits, has fostered the creation of new work, served as an incubator for emerging artists and a champion of those not yet well known, and created a community of adventurous listeners. While in-person concerts are on pause, Mission: Commission continues to put Miller’s focus on new work front and center.

“Making a Miller audio podcast has been on my wish list for a while, and this format really gives us a chance to explore deep and personal insights into how classical music gets made." — Melissa Smey

Listen to episode 1: The Composers

Listen to episode 2: The Collaborators

Available for free wherever you get your podcasts


Visit MissionCommissionPodcast.com for updates.

Read the full press release here.

Mission: Commission is a production of Miller Theatre at Columbia University

Photo credits (l to r): Courtney Bryan by Arielle Pentes, Augusta Read Thomas by Anthony Barlich, and Marcos Balter by Matt Zugale