Collective

Back in the ’90s, Harvard psychology professor J. Richard Hackman surveyed traditional orchestral musicians, and concluded that they experience less job satisfaction than federal prison guards.

Whether or not this alarming statistic still applies to today’s leading orchestras (hopefully not!), the issue inspired me to write a new kind of orchestral music. A music that increases the satisfaction of the musicians by giving them more ownership and control over what they play. In COLLECTIVE, the conductor is still the CEO of this 100-person organization, but now the power structure is “flatter”, resembling that of a 21st Century company like Google.

Every individual in the orchestra, at some point in this piece, has to make a personal decision about what note to play and when to play it. In some sections, leaders within the orchestra choose when to play a given melody, while the conductor decides in realtime for how long the orchestra sustains each harmony. The conductor here has a similar role to that of a jazz pianist, like Bill Evans playing Flamenco Sketches, listening closely to a slowly unfolding trumpet solo for just the right moment to strike the next chord. Every performance is alive, organic, changing.

But of course this is a dangerous move, rejecting the traditional hierarchy. Does this new structure still allow these 100 people to create meaningful, affecting music?

Take a listen to some excerpts here:

For score & parts + more info:

Collective works page

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