Society for New Music

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  • American Music Center Letter of Distinction, 2010
  • New York State Governor's Arts Award Recipient, 2001
  • ASCAP/Chamber Music America Programming Awards 1988-89, 19991-92, 1994-95, 1996-97
  • American Composers Alliance "Laurel Leaf" Award, 1994
  • New York State representative chosen by Continental Harmony 2000, a national program of the American Composers Forum and designated an official White House Millennium Council project
Suggested giving levels
Friend: $100-$199
Patron: $200-$299
Angel: $300-$499
Sustainer: $500-$749
Sponsor: $750-$1000

Donate at the Friend level and receive one free season ticket.
Donate at a higher level and receive two season tickets.

society mission

Founded in 1971, the Society's purpose is to act as a catalyst for the continued growth of the Central New York musical community by commissioning new works; awarding the Brian Israel Prize to young composers in New York State; advocating for new music (e.g. Society News and Fresh Ink on WCNY-FM and its affiliates & online); featuring regional composers alongside guest composers; providing regional musicians an opportunity to perform the music of their peers in order to gain new skills and techniques which they share with their students; and by bringing new music to a broad audience through performances, Young Composers Corner, composers in the schools, extended-care facilities, Upstate Cancer Center, Golisano Children's Hospital, VA Hospital, recordings, and on the web.

2017–2018 season

  • 46 years presenting new music in Syracuse, NY
  • 37 years presenting Cazenovia Counterpoint, a new music series in Cazenovia, NY
  • 32 years awarding the Brian Israel Prize to young composers in New York State
  • 32 years publishing Society News, listing all new music events throughout Upstate New York
  • 30 years sponsoring composers in the schools
  • 21 years producing Fresh Ink, a weekly new music program for WCNY-FM and its affiliates
  • 9 years offering the Young Composers Corner workshops for middle- and high-school students

society facts

The Society for New Music:

  • is the only year-round new music organization in upstate New York
  • is the oldest new music organization in New York State outside of Manhattan
  • is governed by a volunteer Board representing a cross-section of the community.
  • offers an average of 30 engaging performances of the highest quality each year, plus workshops by guest composers and artists
  • commissions at least one new work each season by a regional composer, and initiates consortium commissioning and recording projects with other new music organizations
  • gives World, American and New York premieres of several new works each season
  • awards the Brian M. Israel Prize annually to a New York State composer 30 years of age or younger
  • is dedicated to regional performers performing music by regional composers
  • performs music and produces cable TV and radio broadcasts of music by today's most talented and innovative composers representing a wide diversity of 21st century styles composed by men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds
  • records music by commissioned composers
  • generates joint projects with area arts organizations
  • regularly performs for Senior Citizen residences and long-term care facilities
  • initiates Festivals
    (Women in the Arts, American Pioneers, Ernst Bacon, Music in the Information Age, Novel Music, Asian Voices)
  • annually presents new music in the public schools and funds a composer-in-residence program for the school
  • presents diverse guest artists and composers
  • produces operas
    (James Bolle's Oleum Canis, Carleton Clay's Howcum, Oklahoma, Brent Michael Davids' The Purchase of Manhattan, Randall Davidson's Fourth Wise Man, Vivian Fine's Women in the Garden, John Harbison's Full Moon in March, Brian Israel's The Obtaining of Portia, Tom Johnson's Sopranos Only (American Premiere), Harris Lindenfeld's The Duchess, Poulenc's La Voix Humaine, Robert Xavier Rodriguez's Frida, Ann Silsbee's The Nightingale's Apprentice, Steven Stucky's The Classical Style, Conrad Susa's Transformations, John Tavener's A Gentle Spirit, Persis Parshall Vehar's Eleanor Roosevelt, and 20th Century Cabaret: Blues, Ballads, and Bluelight Dancing, plus numerous school operas)
  • has conducted touring performances throughout New York State, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore
  • has received funding from a wide variety of public, private and corporate sources
    (Amphion Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty, ASCAP, Bernstein/BETA Fund, BMI, Central New York Community Foundation, City of Syracuse, Copland Fund, Ditson Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, Meet the Composer, Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Telephone, Richard Mather Foundation, Updowntowners of Syracuse, Virgil Thomson Fund, Warner Communications-Nonesuch, Weyerhaeuser Foundation, Yvar Mikhashoff Foundation and private donations)

society history

Founded in 1971, the Society's purpose is to act as a catalyst for the continued growth of the Central New York musical community by commissioning new works (46 years); awarding the Brian Israel Prize to young NYS composers (32 years); advocating for new music (e.g. Society News and Fresh Ink on WCNY-FM & its affiliates & online (21 years); featuring regional composers alongside guest composers; providing regional musicians an opportunity to perform the music of their peers in order to gain new skills and techniques which they share with their students; and by bringing new music to a broad audience through performances, Young Composers Corner (9th season), composers in the schools (30 years), extended-care facilities, Upstate Cancer Center, Golisano Children's Hospital, VA Hospital, recordings, and on the web.

The Society has grown from 5 concerts to approximately 30 per season, plus workshops and master classes, in addition to funding the Billie Burdick Composers-in-Residence in schools. The Society has participated in consortia with other groups throughout the U.S. for commissions, recordings, and exchanging performances and scores. In 1988/89, 1991/92, 1994/95 and 1996/97 the Society received ASCAP/Chamber Music America programming awards. In 1994 Neva Pilgrim and the Society received ACA's 'Laurel Leaf' Award. In 1999 the Society was chosen as the NYS representative for the national Continental Harmony Millennium commissioning project. In March 2001 the Society hosted the National SCI Conference. In 2001 the Society was honored with a NYS Governor's Arts Award, the only music organization among the 11 awardees. In May 2010 Neva Pilgrim & the Society received an award from the American Music Center for "extraordinary contribution to the world of contemporary music in this country."

The Society provides a format for living composers in the same way art galleries provide a format for visual artists, and is the only year-round new music organization in New York State outside of Manhattan. Since 1985 the Society has annually awarded the Brian M. Israel Prize to a composer 30 years or younger. The winner receives $750 and a performance. Honorable Mentions are also performed. Several winners have been women and minorities. Most recent winners are Alex Stephenson, Ryan Chase, Alex Burtzos, John Liberatore, Juan Pablo Contreras, Ted Goldman, Thomas Healy, Matthew J. Gilbertson, David Crowell, Baljinder Singh Sekhon II, Eleanor Aversa, Andy Akiho, Nicholas Omiccioli, Christopher Doll, Patrick Castillo, Adam Schoenberg, Huang Ruo, Winnie Cheung, Rob Paterson, & Derek Bermel. (The Society also chooses the New York Federation of Music Clubs Israel winner and performs their music during the season.)

For 31 years the Society has funded the Billie Burdick Composers-in-the-Schools program to work with students writing new works with and for school ensembles, which are then premiered. This several-month project involves the students directly with the process of composition. Each project is tailor-made to the school and the ensembles. One of the recent new works was selected for All-County, and several have been published.

The Society commissions at least one new work each season and has produced 4 recordings, two CDs, a boxed 5-CD set of works by 29 commissioned composers, a 2-CD of music by 7 more commissioned composers, and in early 2017 released another 2-CD set of 7 commissioned composers that won a SAMMY (Syracuse Area Music Awards). The By-Laws of the Society stipulate that the organization commission regional composers, which has included women and minorities (see Fact Sheet).

Since May 1996 the Society has produced Fresh Ink, a weekly program of very recent music for WCNY-FM and its Watertown and Utica affiliates. It combines varied styles of new music into programs of interest to the listener, e.g. Time Crystals, Prayers Remain Forever, Child's Play, Poetic Justice, etc., plus a New Music Calendar for all of Upstate New York. CDs for this program have been submitted from around the globe. Fresh Ink has also been carried on Counterstream Radio, the web radio of the American Music Center in NYC.

Society News is published via the listserv bi-monthly (1100+), and posted on the website. The newsletter includes information on concerts, composers, and a calendar of new music concerts in Central New York from Buffalo to Oneonta and Binghamton. The Society's web site averages over 4,000 hits each month, where there is a complete repertoire listing, Israel winners list, commissioned composers, and more.

To attract an audience, the Society aims for a wide diversity of styles of recent music. The Society's vision is to provide enough opportunities in various contexts so people of all ages are conversant with the music of their own time. This translates into modest ticket prices, free concerts in extended-care facilities, Upstate Cancer Center, Golisano Children's Hospital, libraries, galleries, composers in the schools, plus programs with dance, theatre, poetry, film and/or art exhibits. The Society's Cazenovia Summer Series (37th season of new music in the historic village) has expanded into a festival titled Cazenovia Counterpoint—featuring all new work by regional artists.

Well over 25,000 people attend new music programs each season, plus weekly radio broadcasts (845,000), newsletter readers, listserv, Facebook, Twitter, and on the web.

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