Plays Well With Others

Piano music from compositional groups, collectives and cooperatives

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Monday, April 11, 2011

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! 

Hosted by:

Conor Hanick
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Comments [1]

Michael Meltzer

As a piece of history, the Russian-based publisher M.P.Belaieff founded in the 1880's, was never officially a collective but has always functioned as one.
Mitrofan Beliaeff was a wealthy St. Petersburg patron of the arts and set up a foundation to encourage young Russian composers and a Leipzig-based publishing firm to promote and distribute Russian music to the west. He structured both to continue in that mission after his death. Rimsky-Korsakov was one of the leaders of the composers' group that Belaieff encouraged.
The actual printing and sales was always sub-contracted to one or another major publisher, in my memory it has been handled by Boosey & Hawkes, C.F.Peters, and now Schott, Mainz.
Belaieff published so many of the Russians enumerated in Danny Kaye's song, "Russians," that "Belaieff" could have been the subtitle.

Apr. 15 2011 05:09 AM

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