We wanted to provide an infrastructure she might have gotten from a publisher but provide that without causing her to lose agency over her work like she could by working with a publisher. We want to make sure she retains her copyright so that, when her music is used, it stays with her. She gets to decide how and when it’s used. – Katie Buehner, Director of the Rita Benton Music Library
“My immediate thought was, ‘We need to help her,’ ” explains Brunet. “There were disagreements between the parts and the conductor’s score, and some things that needed to be cleaned up. As a professional conductor, I couldn’t perform it that way, but I wanted to get the piece to a point where we could perform it—and other professional orchestras could, too.”
When Watkins answered the call, she received news she had been waiting to hear for decades: She would finally be able to create a new edition that makes the music easier to read and more accessible for orchestras and conductors. After authoring the piece in 1994, Watkins proofread it several times, looking for and correcting the errors she could find—but she knew there were things that still needed to be addressed. “To receive this call from the School of Music was a total surprise,” she says. “Musical scores are endless and full of tiny details. Other composers tell me they can’t see their own mistakes—that you must have somebody else look at what you’ve done. That’s really true. I’ve gone through things over and over, but I can’t see it all on my own.” Together, Brunet, Buehner, and Watkins navigated the ins and outs of the process and drew up a contract. Once it was signed, the engraving officially began.
They envisioned the University of Iowa Libraries’ Rita Benton Music Library archiving the full score and parts, including digital files and hard copy. The School of Music would also retain a print copy for the Orchestral Library. Watkins would maintain sole copyright and receive the full score and parts of the new edition as well. Once they had a solid plan, Brunet and Buehner were ready to share it with Watkins in hopes that she would be open to the partnership. “No matter what, we wanted Mary to know she was in the driver’s seat,” explains Buehner. “The decisions were hers. We weren’t going to ask her to do anything she was uncomfortable with.”
Brunet wasn’t sure what the next step should be, so she called on Katie Buehner, director of the Rita Benton Music Library, for support. Together, they brainstormed ways to help Watkins’ music shine on the page. What if the School of Music could collaborate with Watkins to re-engrave the full score and orchestral parts and create a new edition of Five Movements in Color using professional software? Brunet and Buehner outlined the project’s major tenets, the type of work and steps involved, and the rights that both parties would maintain throughout the journey. “This project could not have happened without Katie,” says Brunet. “On my own, I couldn’t have made it happen. It took teamwork and so many resources.”
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