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Music for a not quite classical crowd

This week at Symphony Hall, the BSO plays Mozart and Stravinsky. At Jordan Hall, Boston Baroque offers Beethoven. And at a Davis Square bookstore, musicians perform the works of Miller, Stack, McLaughlin, Torras, Cucchiara, and Miljkovic.

In other words, the works of the Socially Awkward Composers.

It could be the name of an indie rock band -- one of Conor Oberst's affiliates, or part of Broken Social Scene, say -- and it does have an indie spirit. But the Socially Awkward Composers actually is a group of composers, all affiliated with New England Conservatory and living in the Boston area. (Opinions on whether members are socially awkward vary among them.) Together, they hope to get their music heard, and heard by people who wouldn't ordinarily attend new music concerts.

''People have preconceived notions of what classical music is," says Michael Miller, who cofounded the group in 2003 with fellow composer Colin Stack. ''We're trying to destroy those."

So at a Socially Awkward Composers' concert, you don't have to dress up. You don't have to sit quietly. You don't have to be rich, or of a certain age. You don't even have to go to a concert hall.

Instead, the group's ''Anywhere But a Concert Stage" performances bring music to venues such as the Zeitgeist Gallery, Forest Hills Cemetery, and, as happens tomorrow, McIntyre and Moore Booksellers. The event features diverse new works by the ensemble's members -- Miller, Stack, Michael McLaughlin, Montserrat Torras, and David Cucchiara -- and guest composer and NEC faculty member Katarina Miljkovic.

Ranging in age from their mid-20s to their early 40s, and hailing from as near as Westwood and as far as Barcelona, all have seen individual success. There are prestigious awards, grants, and commissions among them; many also teach.

But they'd like those who hear their music to see them as people as well as composers. Thus, the direct communication with the audience about their work, which they discuss passionately, intelligently, and often humorously. Thus, the willingness to admit that they have many of their best ideas over a few beers.

''All of us are just trying to be honest and not trying to be anything that we're not," says Stack. ''We're just writing music, and all of us are putting everything we've got into this thing. We want you to see us the way you would normally see us outside of the art."

Members do the actual composing on their own, then ''come together as a support network to create concerts," says McLaughlin, who also plays with klezmer outfit Shirim and the more improvisational Naftule's Dream. ''It's easier as a group, unless you're Yehudi Wyner and you just won the Pulitzer Prize."

Boston has seen other composers' groups, such as Composers in Red Sneakers in the '80s. But the Socially Awkward Composers -- which got its name when a boss of Stack and Miller's described composers that way -- may be the first to aspire to holding a concert in an Irish pub.

''We'd like to do it in the back room of the Burren," McLaughlin says.

''When people say concert music is dying, it's because they do all the old music," he continues. ''Back in the old days, the 1700s, people used to be able to sit and talk during a concert. I like that idea."

At McIntyre and Moore, concertgoers will be able to talk, shop, and come and go as they please. The music will take place around them. If it's technically possible, the composers would like to have different groups of musicians playing different pieces in different parts of the store.

''It's almost like trying to create a happening, as opposed to a concert," McLaughlin says.

The ensemble unites varied musical visions and styles. At this concert, for example, Stack will present pop art songs with his band the Leftovers. Miller says he got the idea for the piece he's writing while reading Marcus Aurelius. And Cucchiara says he's using elements of everything from Indian raga to Indonesian gamelan to hip-hop.

''The good thing about [their shows] is that every composer has a very different approach to music, and the personality of each of them shows in the music they're interested in and the styles that you can hear," says singer Sofia Koutsovitis, who has attended and performed at past Socially Awkward events.

''Last time, there was a piece with accordion and saxophone that was based, I think, on a train trip, and then there was also a 12-piece choir performing, and then maybe I would be doing something on my own with [looped] tapes as part of [Torras's] compositions, and they can have a small chamber music group performing."

It's the inverse of a rock opera: Rather than inserting popular music into a classical setting, the Socially Awkward Composers are creating mini-Lollapaloozas for new music. The classical world frets about declining attendance and the failure to spark interest among young listeners. Could the ensemble's model be part of the road to revitalization?

''This is hopefully a step toward that direction," Torras says. ''It's making it more available and accessible, taking the music places, breaking the rules a little bit. There's been a separation [between popular and classical] for centuries. We don't see it that way."

The Socially Awkward Composers’ "Anywhere But a Concert Stage’" performance takes place tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at McIntyre and Moore Booksellers in Somerville. Free. Call 617-629-4840.

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