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In earlier times, new music was commissioned for any number of special occasions. Compositions have been written for many reasons, among them:
Personal and Political Celebrations
  • Birthdays
  • Weddings
  • Military Victories
  • Coronations
  • Memorials to Public Figures

Religious Celebrations
  • Saint’s Feast Days
  • New Church or Other Building
  • Ordination of Clergy
  • Weddings
  • Memorials to Loved Ones

Arts Events
  • New Concert Hall or Building
  • Completion or Acquisition of a New Organ or Other Major Instrument
  • Celebration of a New Work of Art
  • Arts Festival Opening

Michael Johnston has encouraged the composition and commissioning of new music since he was in high school. “It was a major part of the job,” organists were told from before the time of Bach. Even until the early 1900s, it was expected in many positions. Let’s bring it back; let’s find a reason and commission new organ music!

A composer and singer and partner in Michael’s Music Service, Michael has written several pieces through his fifty years in Charlotte. (See his curriculum vitae.) For example, his Manifestations of the Spirit was commissioned by St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Charlotte, to celebrate the completion of their frescoes. In 1987, his The Mountain of the Lord was the cantata of dedication for the new auditorium at Wildacres Retreat. Three of his organ pieces are available now: Christ the Life of All the Living, Triumphant Procession, and The Lyric Trumpet.

  • Compositions may be based on Scripture, a passage from meaningful poetry, sacred or secular, or words of your choosing.
  • A text, or “program,” is not a requirement.
  • All commissions are made through confidential conference.
  • The commission information may be a permanent part of the published work.
  • Fees are negotiable; some approximate figures:
    • Simple hymn tune, $200 – $500
    • Organ piece of 3-5 minutes, $1000
    • Organ piece of longer duration or with voices or other instruments, $2000 minimum
  • The commissioner may be involved in stylistic considerations, including the amount of dissonance and “Twentieth Century” effects. There is ample historical precedence for this, and overly dissonant pieces are not as likely to be performed repeatedly.
  • The music may be written for a specific instrument or performer.
  • It is not necessary to pick the most popular composer of the day and pay an inflated commission amount and then join a waiting list for years. Often, favorite pieces (yours and mine) were not written by the highest-paid or the busiest composers.

Send email to Michael Johnston
to begin a commission for new organ music.

Past commissions include:
  • The Lyric Trumpet Wedding Procession (1990) for the wedding of my brother, Timothy Johnston
  • Manifestations of the Spirit (1989) for the dedication of the fresco at St Peter's Catholic
  • Triumphant Procession (1989) for the dedication of the Brunzema organ at St John's Episcopal
  • Sanctus Prayer of St Augustine (1988) for All Saints Episcopal; the hymntune All Saints Parish (1988)
  • The Mountain of the Lord (1987), a cantata in four sections celebrating the mountains in scripture, written for the dedication of the chapel and library at Wildacres Retreat.
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