Society For New Music closes its 50th season with a concert at St. Paul’s of Syracuse

Music by four contemporary composers will be performed on Sunday, April 24 to celebrate the closing of the Syracuse Society for New Music’s Golden Jubilee season. “Society Favorites” will feature some of the most important compositions performed at past recitals, said Neva Pilgrim, founding member of the new music organization and artist-in-residence at Colgate University.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Melinda Wagner, “Unsung Cordata,” a 2017 SNM commission, is inspired by industry and the artistry of a puffer fish as it creates patterns in the sand to attract a companion. Wagner is a senior member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School which counts among his many works commissioned for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Juilliard String Quartet and the New York New Music Ensemble.

The program also includes the fourth performance of “Choral” by Kevin Ernste, a 2018 commission in honor of Steven Stucky, renowned composer, professor at Cornell University and author who died in 2016 of brain cancer at the age of 66. Ernste is a professor of composition and electronics. music at Cornell and director of the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center.

Paul Leary’s tribute to the Apollo moon landing will have its third performance on an SNM program, and it will be recorded, along with Ernste’s “Choral” for the company’s upcoming CD of commissioned works. Leary is a faculty member at SUNY Oswego, where he teaches electronic music, composition, and other courses, and has a background in orchestration that includes a decade with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, an ASCAP award-winning ensemble.

The society’s 2021 Israel/Pellman Prize recipient, Yangfan Xu, is the composer of “Dryocopus in Decidus Forest,” which will be performed at the concert. She is doing a master’s in composition at Juilliard, where she studies with Robert Beaser. His work was presented by the New Juilliard Ensemble on April 11 at Lincoln Center.

Heather Buchman, Director of the Orchestral and Chamber Music Program at Hamilton College, will conduct. Local musicians performing are: Kelly Covert, John Friedrichs, John Raschella, Tyler Ogilvie, Liviu Dobrota, Victoria Miskolczy, Zachary Sweet, Sar Strong, Andrea Scheibel and Rob Bridge.

The concert will pay tribute to John Oberbrunner, founding performer of the Society for New Music, of which he was a member of the board of directors. A musical icon in the central New York arts community for more than 60 years, he died March 31 at age 92. He had been a founding member and principal flautist of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, a college and private studio teacher, and a popular performer. with an international reputation. His former student, flautist Lana Stafford of Skaneateles, will present a tribute in his memory.

“John Oberbrunner was an incredible person, a stellar musician, a dedicated teacher, and a wonderful human being,” Pilgrim said. “It is fitting that this concert honors his lifelong commitment to the performance of quality music, and especially new music, in our region.”

Founded in 1971, the Society for New Music is the oldest such organization outside of Manhattan. From its original five concerts per season, it has grown to now produce 30 or more concerts in a variety of styles that feature recent works by regional composers (many of them commissioned) performed by local musicians. Among its many recognitions, the company and Neva Pilgrim were honored in 2010 by the American Music Center for “extraordinary contribution to the world of contemporary music in this country”.


who: New Music Society

What: “Society Favorites”, works commissioned from four composers

When: April 24 at 2:30 p.m.

Or: St. Paul’s Syracuse, 310 Montgomery St.

Tickets$20 online at

Youth: Free for children under 18; use to order

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