Plays Well With Others

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When discussing the behavioral patterns of the composer phylum, one often differentiates between solo fliers and school swimmers. Another way for these creatures organize themselves, however, is in collectives, a fascinating behavior and the programmatic source for this week's Hammered!.

These increasingly popular groups of compositional collaborators are pretty interesting. First of all, they're often formed voluntarily because of the deep compositional or aesthetic affinity felt between its members, which often bolsters the group's "musical message" and generates some incredibly original music.

Composer collectives also propagate attitudes and not just styles. Sleeping Giant, for instance, a group of six emerging composers based in New York City, says it presents music that "prizes vitality over a rigid aesthetic." This is cool because unlike more stylistically homogeneous groups, Sleeping Giant embraces a variety of compositional styles while unifying these styles with collectively held musical attitudes.

Here's another one for you. Monday's show will be devoted entirely to music from the Ears Open Society, a remarkable collective of Finnish composers established in 1977 that not only promoted new music of its members with grants and concerts, but also held lectures, produced publications and offered classes. A true society. We'll hear music from its three most famous founders, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho and New York Philharmonic composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg (his colossal Piano Concerto with the composer as soloist).

We'll also highlight music from the groups Circles and Lines, the NOW Ensemble (including piano music written by its founder, Judd Greenstein), Bang On A Can (with the addition of a few BOAC "friends" to composer-founders David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon), the Atlanta School, a collective established by conductor Robert Spano, and a handful of others.

Who are you composer collectives? Announce yourselves!