Society for New Music


SNM receives grants

SNM is very proud and grateful to be among those receiving grants from the Syracuse Sounds of Music Association and the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation. These funds will assist with Composers-in-the-Schools residencies, outreach concerts, the 12th Annual Young Composers Corner, and the Rising Stars POP-UP program for middle school, high school, and college age Central New York composers.


Empire Farm Brewery to offer special dinner prior to The Astronaut's Tale

Empire Farm Brewery will be holding a special prix fixe, buffet-style dinner on July 20, 5:30-7:00 pm. Cost is $30 (includes taxes and gratuity). Details


The Society for New Music announces the Brian Israel/Sam Pellman awards for 2019

The winner of SNM's Israel/Pellman Award, out of 61 submissions, is Julian Bennett Holmes. Paul Edward Frucht is the winner of the New York Federation of Music Clubs/Israel Prize. Holmes is a student at the Manhattan School, and Frucht is a student at Juilliard.

There were also four Honorable Mentions selected from a very strong field of composers aged 30 and under who are either residents of or studying in New York State. They are Flannery Cunningham, Zoe Yucong Wang, Jonathan Rainous, and Tomek Arnold, b. 1990.

Israel/Pellman winner Julian Holmes, b. 1991, studied with Lowell Liebermann and Richard Danielpour, and is now pursuing a doctorate at Manhattan School of Music, studying with Marjorie Merryman. As a teenager, he toured internationally, playing drums in experimental rock bands. He has won the Chamber Music Society in Rochester Young Composer Competition, the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Composers Award, the Mannes College Bohuslav Martinu Prize, and Second Prize at the Seventh International Dvorák Composition Competition. He also serves as Sacred Music Coordinator for Columbia University.

The music of Paul Frucht, b. 1989, has been commissioned and performed by the American Composers Orchestra; the Juilliard, Milwaukee, and San Diego Symphonies; American Modern Ensemble; and various soloists and ensembles. Upcoming performances are at the Eastern Music Festival, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, and the Ridgefield Symphony. Previously, Frucht was awarded the Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, the American Composers Orchestra’s Audience Choice Award, and others. A native of Danbury, CT, like Charles Ives, he serves as artistic director of the Danbury Music Centre’s Chamber Music Intensive and Ives Concert Series. He holds DMA and MM degrees from Juilliard and a BM from New York University.

Flannery Cunningham, b. 1991, earned degrees from Princeton, University College of Cork, and Stony Brook, and is pursuing a PhD in composition and musicology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Zoe Yucong Wang, b. 1993, began piano at age six and composition at 11, continuing at the Shanghai Conservatory as the first-ranked student before entering Eastman for a BM in composition in 2013. In fall 2017 she began work toward her master’s degree in Collaborative Piano.

Jonathan Rainous, b. 1992, is a graduate student at Ithaca College, as well as a composer, arranger, engraver, and (someday) producer with an interest in "vernacular" music.

In April, Tomek Arnold was one of 20 young composers selected nationally for a 2019 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. A native of Krakow, Poland, he has studied percussion and composition at Eastman, Manhattan, Wesleyan, and is now at Buffalo for his doctorate.

Judges for the Brian Israel/Sam Pellman prizes were Nazareth College faculty composer Octavio Vazquez, Hamilton College pianist Sar Strong, and Hamilton College conductor Heather Buchman.

The Israel Prize was set up to honor composer and pianist Brian Israel following his death at age 35 from leukemia. Sam Pellman, who was on the music faculty at Hamilton College, was a good friend of Brian's while they were in graduate school at Cornell. Pellman chaired the Israel Prize committee for many years, but when he was killed while riding his bicycle in fall 2017, the Society board increased the amount of the prize and renamed it the Israel/Pellman Prize.


Society for New Music awarded $10,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. Included is an Art Works grant of $10,000 to the Society for New Music (SNM) for creation and performance of an opera about Libba Cotten of “Freight Train” fame, who spent the last 20 years of her life in Syracuse, NY. Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,592 Art Works applications for this round of grantmaking, and will award 977 grants in this category in 2019-20.

“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of @NEAarts (National Endowment for the Arts). “Organizations such as the Society for New Music are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.”

Neva Pilgrim, Program Advisor for SNM says: “SNM is honored to receive an NEA grant, allowing us to share musically the important history of Upstate New York, and the diversity of the people who have lived here. Besides several ongoing outreach programs in schools, SNM commissioned the opera ‘Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage’ in 2017, which has already been performed 5 times. This opera sets the record straight about Matilda Joslyn Gage and the suffrage movement during the 2nd half of the 19th century. The Libba Cotten project is a perfect sequel. What better way to learn history than with a music drama?”

African-American left-handed guitarist and song writer Libba Cotten (1893-1987), whose musical gifts were recognized only late in her life with a Grammy and a SAMMY, grew up in poverty. She wrote “Freight Train” at age 11, inspired by the trains she heard daily near her home. Trains represented a link to the North and a way to flee poverty and prejudice in the South. Libba worked in a department store and as a housekeeper to support herself and her daughter. SNM is confident that her inspiring story will resonate with all who grew longing for a better life, and with music lovers from diverse backgrounds. Mike Seeger said: "Cotten is one of those people who's bigger than the tradition she represents".
During the time she lived in Syracuse, Cotten generously shared her talents, regularly performing for the students at Martin Luther King School, where there is a wall of memorabilia about her. SNM board member Francis Parks has been a long-time champion of Libba Cotten, and used her as an example during the Gifford Foundation's "StoryGrowing" project this past year. (StoryGrowing is an initiative of the Gifford Foundation to build nonprofit capacity around storytelling.) This project began to take flight during discussions on how to change the trajectory of young people living in pockets of poverty in Syracuse. The need for role models was a recurring theme. Dr. Joel Potash and Sandra Hurd donated the seed money to set in motion a project highlighting Libba Cotten as such a role model.

SNM chose Kyle Bass to write the libretto for the Libba Cotten project, working with composer Mark Olivieri. Kyle’s “Possessing Harriet” was premiered at Syracuse Stage last October. Mark Olivieri has already written 3 short chamber works based on Libba Cotten songs. Kyle Bass is Associate Artistic Director at Syracuse Stage and a Professor at Colgate University, while Mark Olivieri is Associate Professor and head of the music department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

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