Since April 19, 2022, the podcast has followed the three strikingly different composers across a six-week deadline, from the blank page to the double bar. Each was asked to compose a new work for the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet, and check in weekly with podcast host Melissa Smey (Miller’s Executive Director) to discuss how their piece is developing—a dialogue that ventures into joy, grief, frustration, and humor. Ultimately, the podcast lifts the curtain to reveal the inner lives of composers as they work, demystifying the process of how classical music gets made. And three more pieces of vibrant chamber music have been added to the world.
Episode 1: The Composers
An introduction to our composers—Oscar Bettison, Vijay Iyer, and Kate Soper—as they begin their creative journey to compose a new piece of classical music in 6 weeks for Mission: Commission.
Episode 2: Dear Diary...
Journey into the inner worlds of our three composers so you can understand more about the real people making the music. We go deeper in understanding how each composer thinks as they document their process through audio diaries–sometimes words, sometimes music, sometimes both.
Episode 3: What even is form?
To navigate the terrain of classical music, you need some trail markers, and that’s where form comes in. It’s the underlying structure of the way things happen in music. Composers today don’t always want to follow the age-old rules of form. How do our composers think about form as they work on their pieces?
Episode 4: Answering the call
The composers are deep in the work: writing, rewriting, tinkering with the myriad details that make the piece what it is, and what it will be. But what guides their decisions about how to shape the piece, or what direction to take it in?
Episode 5: Blu Tack, Growls, and M&Ms
The composers rehearse or prepare for rehearsal with the Parker Quartet, and the pieces start to come to life.
Episode 6: What we make is who we are
As the creative journey comes to an end, we hear reflections on genre, and hear why these pieces defy categorization.
Mission: Commission was born after the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 when Miller Theatre's in-person programming was on pause. Melissa Smey was determined to create opportunities for composers and musicians during the worst months of the pandemic. She and her team threw themselves into digital innovations, most notably Mission: Commission. Produced by seasoned podcast showrunner, audio producer, and journalist Golda Arthur and hosted by Smey, Season One featured composers Marcos Balter, Courtney Bryan, and Augusta Read Thomas and is available anywhere podcasts are available (click here to listen).
iTunes Top 25 Podcasts in Music (April 2021)
Listen to Mission: Commission - Season One
Available for free wherever you get your podcasts
Visit MissionCommissionPodcast.com for updates.
Mission: Commission is a production of Miller Theatre at Columbia University