Society for New Music

Sign up for our mailing list


  • 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
Add to Cart

We welcome donations by check to:
Society for New Music
438 Brookford Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13224

Suggested giving levels
Friend: $100-$199
Patron: $200-$299
Angel: $300-$499
Sustainer: $500-$749
Sponsor: $750-$1000

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. There are eight distinct programs/activities that receive ongoing support from the Society:

  1. Commissioning new works (since 1971)
  2. Awarding the Brian Israel/Sam Pellman Prizes to two young NYS composers (since 1985)
  3. Publicly advocating for new music, e.g. through the Society News disseminated on our website and via email, and via the weekly hour-long "Fresh Ink" program, broadcast since 1996 on WCNY-FM & its affiliates and more recently online
  4. Providing regional musician-teachers opportunities to perform the music composed by their peers, in order to gain new skills and techniques which they then share with their students
  5. Bringing new music to a broad audiences through special performances, such as at extended-care facilities, Upstate Cancer Center, Golisano Children's Hospital, VA Hospital
  6. Young Composers Corner (since 2008)
  7. Composers in the Schools program (since 1987)
  8. Producing recordings of commissioned works and making them available to the public on CDs, on the web, and on the radio

2020–2021 season

  • 50 years presenting new music in Syracuse, NY
  • 41 years presenting Cazenovia Counterpoint, a new music series in Cazenovia, NY
  • 36 years awarding the Brian Israel Prize to young composers in New York State
  • 36 years publishing Society News, listing all new music events throughout Upstate New York
  • 34 years sponsoring composers in the schools
  • 25 years producing Fresh Ink, a weekly new music program for WCNY-FM and its affiliates
  • 13 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 Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage, 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

The Society has grown from five concerts to approximately 30-35 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 and 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 NYS outside of Manhattan. Since 1985 the Society has annually awarded the Brian M. Israel Prize to a composer 30 years or younger, now the Sam Pellman/Israel prize of $1,000 and a performance. Honorable Mentions are also performed. Several winners have been women and minorities. Examples of recent winners are Jack Frerer, Saad Haddad, 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, and Derek Bermel. For many years now the Society has also chosen the winner of the New York Federation of Music Clubs $750 winner and performed music by that composer.

Since 1987, 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 four recordings, two CDs, a boxed 5-CD set of works by 29 commissioned composers, a 2-CD set of music by seven more commissioned composers. Another recently released 2-CD set of works by seven commissioned composers both won a Syracuse-Area Music Award (SAMMY) and was nominated for a Grammy. The By-Laws of the Society stipulate that the organization commission regional composers, which has included women and minorities.

Since May 1996 the Society has produced Fresh Ink, a weekly program of very recent music for Syracuse-based WCNY-FM and its Watertown and Utica affiliates. It combines varied styles of new music into programs of interest to the listener, e.g. "Murmurations," "In Flight," "Suites for the Sweet," "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 distributed bi-monthly to approximately 1200 e-newsletter subscribers, 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 website averages over 3,500 hits each month, and provides 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 opportunities in various contexts in Central New York so those living in the region have an opportunity to become 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, VA Hospital, libraries, and galleries; composers in the schools; and programs with dance, theatre, poetry, film and/or art exhibits. The Society's Cazenovia Summer Series has expanded into a festival titled Cazenovia Counterpoint‐featuring all new work.

Well over 17,500 people attend new music programs each season, and many more are reached via weekly radio broadcasts (845,000), e-newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, and the website.

fresh ink concerts news see and hear resources about us home