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
Sponsor$1,000
Sustainer$500
Patron$175
Friend$90
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 CNY musical community by commissioning new works, through advocacy (e.g. Society News, and Fresh Ink on WCNY-FM and its Watertown and Utica affiliates), by featuring regional composers alongside guest composers, by providing regional musicians an opportunity to perform the music of their peers in order to gain new skills and techniques which they then share with their students, and by bringing new music to as broad an audience as possible, through performances, broadcasts and cable TV.

2013–2014 season

  • 43 years presenting new music in Syracuse, NY
  • 34 years presenting Cazenovia Counterpoint, a new music series in Cazenovia, NY
  • 29 years publishing Society News, listing all new music events throughout Upstate New York
  • 18 years producing Fresh Ink, a weekly new music program for WCNY-FM and its affiliates

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 20th 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, 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, Ann Silsbee's The Nightingale's Apprentice, Conrad Susa's Transformations, John Tavener's A Gentle Spirit, 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, through advocacy (e.g. Society News and Fresh Ink on WCNY-FM and its Watertown and Utica affiliates), by featuring regional composers alongside guest composers, by providing regional musicians an opportunity to perform the music of their peers in order to gain new skills and techniques which they then share with their students, and by bringing new music to as broad an audience as possible through performances, broadcasts and cable TV.

The Society has grown from five concerts to approximately 25 per season, plus workshops and masterclasses, in addition to funding composers-in-residence in inner-city 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 New York State 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.

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. The Society annually awards the Brian M. Israel Prize to a composer 30 years of age or younger. The winner receives $500 and a performance. Honorable Mentions are also performed. Several winners have been women and minorities, most recently Evan Johnson, Huang Ruo, Winnie Cheung, Mark McConnell, Rob Paterson, and Derek Bermel.

The Society funds four composers in inner-city schools to work with 4th - 12th graders in writing new works for chorus, orchestra, and band, which are premiered by the students with professionals. This several-month project has students writing texts (language arts program), and setting them to music working in "composer teams" with the composer-in-residence. This program is so successful that composers and schools ask to be involved. Each year some problem students are re-labeled "gifted". The local media provides excellent coverage.

The Society commissions at least one new work each season and has produced four recordings and one CD of works by commissioned composers. The By-Laws of the Society stipulate that the organization commission regional composers. Commissioned composers have included women and minorities.

Since May 1996, the Society has produced Fresh Ink, a weekly program of 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. Sound Designs, Borrowed Music, Color Music, It's all Music, Cross-Cultural Cadences, etc., plus a new music calendar for all of upstate New York. CDs and DATs for this program have been submitted from around the globe.

Society News is published twice each season and mailed to a well-maintained list of 5,200 and includes information on concerts, composers, and a calendar of all new music concerts in central New York from Buffalo to Oneonta and Binghamton.

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, libraries, galleries, and schools, plus programs with dance, theatre, poetry, film and/or art exhibits. The Society's Cazenovia Summer Series has expanded into a festival titled Cazenovia Counterpoint and spread over three weekends. In 2003, there were 20 events, 15 of which were free - all featuring new work by regional artists.

Over 20,000 people attend new music programs each season, plus weekly radio broadcasts, newsletter readers (10,500) and TV.

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