How to Find Good Repertoire
There are many ways to find music for your ensemble if you find you are repeating yourself and running out of ideas. Many countries have associations and organisations working to promote specific types of music ensembles or instrument groups that can help with repertoire choices and guidance towards country-specific databases of sheet music and composers. International online resources such as the Wind Repertory Project and European Choral Association may be of help. You can also check out ConductIT’s list of resources for similar pages.
Many dedicated and passionate conductors also contribute with personal websites and blogs with plenty of information and tips. One of them is Tim Reynish, one of the leading conductors of wind bands and wind ensembles in the world. During the past two decades, he has been responsible for commissioning numerous new works from composers throughout the world as well as discovering and bringing recognition to forgotten works through his performances, CD recordings, articles and clinics.
Networking and conversations with other conductors and music teachers are perhaps the number one source to finding new repertoire. Sharing ideas and experiences is a valuable asset in the music community in general.
The choice of repertoire was previously often limited to local teaching traditions and a few available textbooks, but in this day and age, plenty of websites and apps are easily accessed no matter where in the world you live. Although it can be tedious to spend time separating the good resources from the bad ones, there is no doubt that the online world has made music discovery much easier.
While searching for new ideas, you may want to:
Join social media groups
In many social groups online, you can freely ask questions to distant colleagues around the world about repertoire and much more. Here are a few examples (valid in 2021):
Ask your musicians
Unless you want to end up conducting a handful of pieces over and over again for the rest of your career, it is seldom a good idea to leave the repertoire selection entirely in your musicians’ hands. But inviting the band or choir to come up with ideas or make a contest out of finding one new hand-selected piece for a concert can be both musically enriching and a big motivator for the participants. This is especially true for younger musicians for whom such an exercise is also an excellent learning activity.
Keep an eye on competitions and festival programmes
Band competitions, military tattoos, festivals and similar events can be the perfect place to go repertoire hunting. If you search through competition and festival programmes from all over the world, you may find pieces that you have never before heard of or thought could exist. Normal practice at many competitions is to each year commission a new work by a contemporary composer which is performed by all of the participants. These pieces can be an option for conductors who want to contribute to musical renewal and development in their programming.
Use YouTube or other video sharing media
If you are not using YouTube or another video sharing media as a source of inspiration, you are behind the times! Whether you are looking for brand new pieces or a contemporary arrangement of a specific piece, it will certainly be possible to find recordings of choirs and ensembles performing at a high level online. Composers and arrangements are usually stated in the video descriptions and sometimes in the comment sections below. Also, when you find a channel that fits your taste and needs, look through their favourites and subscriptions as well. There you may find highly relevant recommendations.