I have a pitch meeting in about five hours. In these types of meetings, one proposes operas that one would like to write to people who commission and put on new operas. I’m surprisingly calm, although I am still in my pajamas and it’s almost 1pm.
This meeting took me two years to land. That’s not a typo. In April 2016, I started communicating with the assistant to a major conductor. I had met said conductor – and his assistant – on a few occasions, so that a brief reintroduction would receive a response of “Oh yes, of course, how are you?” My initial emails inquired about opportunities to arrange for the occasional pops-ish concert by the conductor’s orchestras. The following January, after a positive response from the conductor, I contacted the assistant to enquire about how to submit orchestral scores. I chased the assistant for another six months until I got a mailing address. Three months later, after corrections and printing, I mailed the score. Five months later, I received and email from the conductor saying he had received the score and would take a look.
That was two months ago. Things accelerated after that – the conductor liked the score and wanted to talk, the conversation quickly shifted from orchestral music to opera, he asked for pitches to be delivered to him directly. He wanted these pitches to be “100% me” (which I figured meant passion projects), and with a distinctly American perspective in subject and musicality. I gave him two options, he liked them both, we moved to set up a meeting with the general director of the opera.
That brings me back to the present – still in my pajamas.
For an opera composer, delivering pitches is an audition. To be honest, I’ve never had a live pitch meeting – only those over the phone or via email. I’ve written a lot about crafting pitches (here’s a good one) so I won’t get into that now, except to say that I still do it the way that link describes. But what I will do is enumerate the list of truths about auditions that have been compiled over the years by me and my wife, who, as I write this, is in a pretty large audition herself.
- Take every audition. I have figured out my audition/submission calculus – the depth of my feelings of rejection is inversely proportional to the number of opportunities I seek out. If I get a few rejections, but know there’s 20 more applications floating around out there, I feel infinitely better than when the only application I sent out got the can.
- It’s only an audition. #DemystifyArtisticPursuit
- You have no idea what the people on the other side of the table are looking for. This includes how you look, where you came from, what school you went to, what prizes you’ve already won, who you know, and the fact that the folks on the other side of the table are looking to advance their own sphere of influence just as much as you are.
- Give them what you have that day; if they’re picking up what you’re putting down then roll with that. One has nothing to prove to anyone in this business, nor should the farm be given away in exchange for the possibility of an opportunity.
- Get back to work. Because there’s another audition coming up. I’ve also found that massive amounts of work put into the presentation I have to make for one big audition can be used repeatedly for down-ticket auditions, email blasts, etc.