How Do We Pick Our Rep?

The number one question I’m asked by students, audiences, and people at parties is “How do you guys pick your music?” It’s true, programming is always a mystical aspect of the business, and every group has its own process. Ours, in the spirit of chamber music, is rather democratic.

Each year, we have the dreamlist project. Each ensemble member is allowed to nominate a limited number of pieces to the dreamlist, and shares it with the whole team. Over the course of many weeks, we all listen to the works, and score them based on two criteria.

1) Do we think this is a compelling piece of music?

2) How high a priority is it to program this music next season?

And then, we fill out a spreadsheet. That’s right ladies and gentleman, even the magical aspect of programming isn’t devoid of quantitative computation in excel documents. The calculations are made for average score in each category, and then a total score is given to each work.

In a marathon meeting, we meet to discuss priorities and revise the list of “must program” pieces to a manageable level. Not everything we want to play will make it into the season, but if it doesn’t, it will be on deck for the following year. From there, we brainstorm ideas for our series, and begin to piece the programs together.

There’s a lot less magic and a lot more science than one would suspect in this process, but it is one of the most exciting aspects of our work as a team.

Hope that helps explain this aspect of our work. And believe you me, we’ve got some exciting things coming up down the road… You’ll just have to stay tuned for announcements.

Here we are planning out the future of 5HE.


Fifth House Ensemble

3 Responses to “How Do We Pick Our Rep?”

  1. Ellen Mc says:

    Love it! Thanks for sharing this process with us!

  2. […] MS:  We have a lengthy democratic process regarding repertoire choices with each of 10 members nominating pieces each spring for the following year.  Everyone looks into 4-5 pieces contributed by each member—these are pieces that we all want to play before we die, and imagine 4-5 pieces x 10 people, and that’s a lot of pieces to go through. It’s a long process but important….we have to listen to all the pieces. And we rate each piece generally speaking, and then we look at balancing the instrumentation and give each piece a “programmability score” and prioritize the pieces at our programming meeting.  It’s a balancing act, we’re not just programming concerts but we’re programming stories.  We have main cornerstone pieces that we want to play but then we have to consider what pieces are right for each scene, and then we fit holes in with other music from our list as needed. It’s a balance between players, and also a balance between traditional and non-traditional works.  We start with the music we want to program over the entire series, and then we work with collaborators to think of some general story-line ideas….basically we create the story-line around our music choices. (For more on their process in choosing rep visit http://fifth-house.com/?p=1400) […]

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