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2016 Brian Israel Prize Winners Announced

Ryan Chase

Congratulations to Ryan Chase, winner of the Society for New Music’s 2016 Brian Israel Award of $750 plus performance of his work Stargazer. Based in Cohoes, NY, Chase will be moving to Hamilton, NY, in August to take a position at Colgate University. Born in 1987, Ryan’s music has been described by the New York Times as a "whirlwind" of "deftly explored contrasts of mood, from bombastic to introverted." His pieces have been performed in venues ranging from dive bars to Carnegie Hall by such ensembles as Alarm Will Sound, the Chelsea Symphony, Contemporaneous, Flux Quartet, and SONAR. As a jazz pianist, Ryan has shared the stage as a performer with artists as varied as Clay Aiken, Blues Traveller, and Questlove.

Honors for Ryan's music include fellowships from Tanglewood, Aspen, and Copland House; a Harvard Fromm Commission, two consecutive BMI Awards (including the 2011 William Schuman Prize for Most Outstanding Entry), an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, and the Audience Choice Award from the 2012 American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, among others. His music has been presented at the 2014 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the 2014 Resonant Bodies Festival, and the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. He holds degrees from Mannes College of Music and Indiana University, where his primary teachers were Claude Baker, David Dzubay, Keith Fitch, and Don Freund. He will serve as Visiting Assistant Professor of Composition at Colgate University for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Kaito Nakahori

The New York Federation of Music Clubs $750 Brian Israel prize, selected by SNM’s panel, goes to Kaito Nakahori for Zero. Nakahori was educated in Japan but now lives in NYC where he is active in the new music world. Nakahori’s music will also be performed by SNM during the 2016-17 season.

Kaito Nakahori was born in Japan in 1989, began composing at age 14, and attended college in Japan, where he got involved in contemporary music. Currently, he is Artistic Director and Conductor of Hai-Dao Ensemble, Composer in Residence of Khemia Ensemble, and part of an entertainment company in New York. Nakahori is recognized for blending instrumental colors and mixed Western and Eastern music in an authentic and elegant style. His pieces have been commissioned and performed in the U.S., Italy, Romania, Belgium, Argentina, Colombia, China, and Japan by prestigious musicians and organizations such as Aki Takahashi, Mari Kimura, Mayumi Miyata, Shiniti Ueno, JACK Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Antico Moderno, Senzoku New Philharmonic Orchestra at Suntory Hall, Merkin Hall, Jordan Hall, Sala Radio Hall, Caroline H. Hume Hall, Radio Nacional Cordoba and so on. His first portrait concert in U.S. entitled "Music For Peace" was held at United Nations in May 2015, and was a huge success. He composed the score for the Huang Yin-Yu's film "After Spring, the Tamaki Family...," and the film has been nominated to best documentary of 2016 Taipei Film Awards.

There were two Honorable Mentions, Zachary Sheets for his Encircling the Crafted Lights for mixed ensemble and Charles Peck for his Rift & Shade for string quartet.

Zachary Sheets

Zachary Sheets (b. 1991) is a composer, chamber musician, and orchestral flutist. Zach was invited to perform in both the Astral Artists 2015 National Auditions and the Concert Artists Guild 2015 Victor Elmaleh Competition, and was the first prize winner of the inaugural Tal Perkes Scholarship. As a composer, Zach's works have been performed by such groups as Ensemble InterContemporain, Talea, Callithumpian Consort, Juventas New Music, and many others. He was featured in a performance of his own solo flute work, that colors the stone, at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA, and a new work as part of the 2015 ManiFeste Academy at IRCAM in Paris. Winner of the Belle S. Gitelman Award, the Bernard Rogers Prize, John Green Award, and a first prize in the 2010 Concours Grafimuse, his music has been featured on the MATA Interval, OSSIA, and SEAMUS Electro-Acoustic miniatures series. In July 2016 he travels to Valencia, Spain, with the [Switch~Ensemble], to perform as ensemble-in-residence at the Valencia International Performance Academy. Zach holds a Performer’s Certificate in flute from the Eastman School of Music and B.A. in music and French literature from Harvard University.

Charles Peck

Charles Peck’s music has been called “daring” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and “spell-binding” by Rappahannock News. His music was recently selected in the New York Youth Symphony’s First Music program, Ensemble Mise-En’s Call for Scores, the Locrian Chamber Player’s Call for Scores, and was named the winner of the Lake George Music Festival’s Composition Competition, Symphony in C’s Young Composers’ Competition, the Castleton Festival’s Young Composer’s Forum, and the OFMC Collegiate Composition Competition. Peck has also been awarded grants from the McKnight Foundation, American Composers Forum, and Cornell Council for the Arts. His music will be featured this summer at the Aspen Music Festival. Additionally, his bassoon duet, titled Alluvion, is included on an album by Ablaze Records and his new work for Euphonium and Brass Band, titled Aggregate, is featured on Joel Collier’s debut album Shadowed. Peck’s current projects include a new work for the JACK Quartet, a commission for marimbist Ji Hye Jung, a new sinfonietta for Cornell’s Festival Chamber Orchestra, and a commission for the Kansas University Percussion group. Peck is currently a doctoral student at Cornell where he earned the 2016 Otto R. Stahl Memorial Award in composition. He received his MM from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. There, he was named the winner of the 2012 Composition Competition and was awarded the Scott Huston Award for composition. He received his BM degree from Drexel University.

The Society for New Music and the New York Federation of Music Clubs sponsor the annual Brian M. Israel Competition which is open to composers living in New York State who are 30 years of age or younger as of May 1, and whose music has not previously been performed by the Society. Brian Israel, 1951-1986, a pianist, composer, and conductor who performed with the Society for New Music for many years, received his MFA and DMA degrees from Cornell University. A native of the Bronx, he studied with Lawrence Widdoes, Ulysses Kay, Robert Palmer, Burrill Phillips and Karel Husa. He joined the Syracuse University School of Music faculty upon completion of his graduate studies, and remained there until his untimely death from leukemia at age 35.

Sam Pellman, who was a younger fellow student and friend of Brian Israel’s, is the Society’s Israel Prize chair. He lined up judges conductor Heather Buchman, pianist Sar Shalom Strong, and composer Ryan Carter.


Information on the 2016 Young Composers Corner now available

The 2016 Young Composers Corner, for middle- and high-school-aged aspiring composers, will once again be held in July as part of Cazenovia Counterpoint. For complete information, download the flyer.


Steven Stucky, 1949-2016

Composer Steven Stucky, 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner, Professor Emeritus at Cornell, and long-time Society for New Music board member and program advisor, succumbed to brain cancer on February 14, 2016, at age 66.

His music was first performed by SNM when he was a grad student at Cornell, among the earliest performances of his music by a professional chamber ensemble. The Society was in its infancy then, and Steve joined in as a commissioned composer, board member, and program advisor. His character and generosity were such that, even while dealing with cancer surgery and treatments, he sent us three new CDs of his music to use as incentives on Fresh Ink on April 3, 2016, during the WCNY-FM membership drive.

Steve was a great composer, a terrific person, and a good friend to many of us. He was truly a CNY treasure and will be dearly missed, but his music lives on and will for generations to come.

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