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2014 Brian Israel Prize Winners Announced

John LiberatoreThe judges have announced the winners of the 2014 Brian M. Israel Prize for the Society for New Music and the New York Federation of Music Clubs. The winner of the Society's $750 Israel prize is John Liberatore for his work She rose, and let me in, a set of variations for piano. The Auburn native was one of the Society for New Music's "Rising Stars" during his first year at Syracuse University as a piano major studying with Steve Heyman. Liberatore was one of the 18 winners ASCAP 2014 national young composer awards.

Liberatore's music has been performed at venues around the world, including the International Viola Congress, the Hindemith Centre, American Cultural Institute of Peru, Four Seasons Centre of Toronto, and Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. A new dramatic work, commissioned by the American Opera Initiative of the Washington National Opera, will premiere next November at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Other recent and upcoming engagements include performances with Dinosaur Annex, Third Coast Percussion, the Cleveland Contemporary Players, and the Finnish chamber ensemble Trio Ramifications.

On a grant from the Presser Foundation, Liberatore spent the summer of 2012 in Tokyo, Japan, studying with Jo Kondo, an experience which made an indelible impression on his music. Other recognitions include a fellowship from the Tanglewood Music Center in 2011, two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, and invitations from the I-Park Artist's Enclave, the Brush Creek Arts Foundation, the MusicX Festival, and the Bowdoin Music Festival. He holds degrees from Eastman (MM, PhD) and Syracuse University (BMus). He currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford but makes his home in Olean in the Southern Tier of New York State.

Michael BoymanThe New York Federation of Music Clubs Israel Prize was awarded to Michael Boyman for Anger Management – Therapy for Piano Duo, 2013. The composer and violist is also the recipient of the 2014 BMI Foundation William Schuman Award, tying with a previous Israel winner from Buffalo, Chris Rogerson. An alumnus of the New York Youth Symphony, Mike served as principal violist of the orchestra from 2010 to 2012 and was a member of Making Score, the organization's composition program. He recently received his Master's Degree in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied privately with Richard Danielpour and served as a Fellow in the Center for Music Entrepreneurship. Mike is also a graduate of New York University, where he studied political science and music composition, studying privately with Justin Dello Joio.

Ross Scott GriffeyHonorable Mentions were awarded to: Ross Scott Griffey, b. 1990, for his All suddenly the wind comes soft, 2014, for piano, and JunYi Chow for A Night without Voices for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion. Houston native Ross Scott Griffey was an Honorable Mention in the Israel Prize last year and is a doctoral student at Juilliard, having graduated with honors from Rice. Mr. Griffey has won several other prizes, including first prize in the 2012 Voices of Change/Dallas Symphony Orchestra Texas Young Composers Project.

JunYi ChowJunYi Chow, b. 1987, is a native of Malaysia who now lives in Fresh Meadows, NY. He began piano and theory at age 5, and in 2005 entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. After graduation in 2011, Chow began a master's degree program in the U.S. at Indiana University, completing it in May 2013 as a student of P.Q. Phan. Chow's music has been performed in many places including Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada.

There were 25 scores submitted this year from throughout New York State: Olean, New York City, Fresh Meadows, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers, Ithaca, Kenmore, Fort Drum, and Manlius.

The judges were conductor/trombonist Heather Buchman, on the Hamilton College faculty; pianist Sar Shalom Strong, also on the Hamilton College faculty; and Zhou Tian, composer on the Colgate University faculty. Sam Pellman, Professor of Music and Director of the Studio for Digital Music on the Hamilton College faculty, administers the Israel Prize. Pellman and Brian Israel were classmates together at Cornell while earning their doctorates.

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Review of "Love and Light" concert

Read the review.

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Review: Society for New Music presents "The Now Generation"

Read the review at The NewsHouse.

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Society News, January 2014

The print edition of Society News has been discontinued. You can download the PDF version here.

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Two world premieres bring historical resonance to Hendricks Chapel

Read the review at Green Room Reviews.

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Society News, August 2013

The print edition of Society News has been discontinued. You can download the PDF version here.

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Review of "Serendipity" (Society for New Music, Innova 719)

Serendipity * Society for New Music * INNOVA 719 (2 CDs: 111:52)

SANCHEZ-GUTIERREZ ...[and of course Henry the Horse] Dances the... . RUCHALSKI Winter Light. MELLITS Platter of Discontent. SCHERZINGER Fractured Mirrors. LAMB Subito. MORRIS Society Sound. TRUEMAN Triptick

The pieces were all commissioned by the Society for New Music. Cynthia Johnston Turner conducts three of the works on the album: Robert Morris's Society Sound, Nicolas Scherzinger's Fractured Mirrors, and Marc Mellits's Platter of Discontent. Society Sound is a sextet running some nine minutes and is a sort of "map" of a much larger, 90-minute extravaganza, Sound/Path/Field, a multiensemble work performed both indoors and outdoors "that allows the listener to wander around and experience his music as they please," the conductor told me. "It's not an easy piece ... But, in the end, I came to appreciate it immensely. It's a piece I needed to live with for a while." I agree! On first hearing, I found it opaque; but it does repay persistence.

Fractured Mirrors makes something of a contrast, being energetic and consciously composed to be fun to play. Written for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, the piece integrates the five players who pass motifs to each other like a kaleidoscope, as the composer puts it. "Another important element in the piece is the idea of a broken or fractured mirror...," he writes. "I imagined what it would be like to write some music and then reflect a page of that music onto a broken mirror. Music that had initially appeared continuous would now rematerialize in splintered fragments." And so it is, the music being engaging with a convincing conclusion. A PDF file of the score can be downloaded at no cost from the composer's website (scherzimusic.com).

More scherzos in Mellits's Platter of Discontent, for flute, clarinet/bassoon, violin, cello, piano, and percussion. I am usually allergic to whimsically "funny" titles such as those of the six movements of this piece: "Paranoid Cheese," "Freedom of the Eggs," and so on. Nevertheless it is entertaining, offering a variety of moods, from the driving energy of the opening "The Seduction of Brie" (sort of Steve Martland meets Michael Nyman) and "Jello Infusion," to the passionate lyricism of "Paranoid Cheese," an extended violin solo most expressively played by Cristina Buciu, the composer's wife, accompanied by cello and marimba. Something of the opening movement returns in the last, "Freedom of the Eggs," much of it a driving toccata featuring the piano, played with gusto by Steven Heyman.

More amusing titles in Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez's ...[and of course Henry the Horse] Dances the... for piano duo, percussion and string quartet (and a conductor). Judging by the names in the worklist on the composer's website, he is clearly diverted by machines and these four short pieces are largely inspired by whimsical (real) ones: a wobbly robot, an installation of a mechanical mallet which hits a lot of tequila bottles, and so on. Very acutely imagined sound worlds, precisely realized with prominence being given to pianos and tuned percussion.

Edward Ruchalski's Winter Light for clarinet, violin, piano, and percussion is, apart from the instrumentation perhaps, an entirely conventional exploration of some tonal, lyrical themes. In three linked movements, running over 20 minutes, it evokes winter walks...

Bags of energy in Sally Lamb's Subito for piano trio. It bursts in with tremendous verve, and Lamb shows skill in writing music that's genuinely fast (as opposed to being performed quickly). The four sections, fast-slow-fast-slow, with big switches of mood between them, present a variety of material: a collage, as the composer puts it, of popular songs, a bit of Beethoven, her own material, and so on. Saying that it is meant to be spontaneous, as Lamb does, wouldn't cut the mustard if the result felt thrown together, but she gets away with it helped, I am sure, by the conviction of the performance.

Finally, Dan Trueman's Triptick, also for piano trio, plays with the interesting idea of a musical analogy to the homophone. If homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings (e.g., foil, clock, stretch, and so on), is there a musical equivalent? Each of the three movements of Triptick starts identically, but then goes off on its own course under the influence of a pair of words, for example stretch and steel in the second movement. It is an engaging idea...

The recordings include a diverse range of ensembles made up of 20 musicians in total. Some players crop up repeatedly and credit must be given to John Friedrichs, clarinet, Cristina Buciu, violin, David LeDoux, cello, Steven Heyman, piano, and Jennifer Vacanti, percussion, as well as Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor. However, all the players turn in what sound like fine interpretations of the varied repertoire and there is much to be enjoyed on this aptly titled disc.

Jeremy Marchant -- excerpts from this article which originally appeared in Issue 36:4 (Mar/Apr 2013) of Fanfare Magazine.

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