Pulitzer winner returns
for free music sampler

Melinda Wagner

SYRACUSE — The Society for New Music welcomes veteran guest composer and 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner in music, Melinda Wagner, back to Central New York for a sampling of her celebrated chamber music on Friday, Jan. 25. The music of the Hamilton College alumna will begin at 11:15 a.m. in the Storer Auditorium at Onondaga Community College.

Thanks to New Music USA’s MetLife Creative Connections program, this unique event called "Mindy’s Music" is free, and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Wagner will also host a Composers Seminar at the Syracuse University Setnor School of Music at 4:30 p.m. This event is also free and open to the public.

In a statement on her website, Wagner says, "I become very connected to the musicians who perform my music; there is always electricity in the relationship between us. I want the audience to be a part of that — to complete the circuit."

Wagner’s "electrifying musical circuit will surely be completed during her return to Syracuse on January 25, with distinguished musicians bringing each of her chamber works to life on stage," Society officials said.

Featuring several of her award-winning pieces, (Tintinnabulum, Wick, Wing and Prayer and From a Book of Early Prayers) the concert will highlight the breadth of her music. Works vary from piano solo (Tintinnabulum) to full SSAATTBB chorus (From a Book of Early Prayers). Performers include the "Society Singers" (Sangeetha Ekambaram, Neva Pilgrim, Luba Lesser, Jean Loftus, Daniel Fields, Richard Pilgrim, Paul Winchester and Phil Eisenman) along with Kelly Covert on flute/alto flute, John Friedrichs on clarinet/bass clarinet, Ann McIntyre on violin, Gregory Wood on cello, Sar Strong on piano and Rob Bridge on percussion.

Wagner’s history with the Society for New Music began in 1981, when her music was performed on a regional composers concert while a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Her Sextet was commissioned in 1989, premiered and recorded. Wagner’s, Wing and Prayer, was commissioned in 1996 by the New York Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association, of which Society co-founder Neva Pilgrim was then commissioning chair. This piece went on to win First Prize at the League of Composers/ICSM National Competition in 1998.

Society officials said they are "delighted to bring back such a distinguished composer to the Syracuse and Central New York music area."

With degrees from Hamilton College, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, Wagner has been "a distinguished and well-loved composer in the music community since winning ASCAP Young Composer Awards in 1984, 1985 and 1987," Society officials said. Over the past three decades, Wagner has "excited and intrigued" audiences, musicians and critics with her "captivating" and "emotive" compositions. She has been commissioned by countless organizations including the Westchester Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1999, her Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion won the Pulitzer Prize in music.

On the net: On the net: www.societyfornewmusic.org

Wagner has also shared her composing prowess with young minds, teaching and lecturing at many higher education institutions, including Yale, Cornell, Syracuse and Juilliard.

The purpose the Society for New Music, founded in 1971, the Society for New Music, "is to act as a catalyst for the continued growth of the Central New York musical community by commissioning new works; by advocacy (e.g. Society News and Fresh Ink on WCNY-FM & its Watertown & Utica affiliates & online); featuring regional composers alongside guest composers; 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, composers-in-the-schools, broadcasts, recordings, and on the web (societyfornewmusic.org & WCNY.org)."

On the net: www.societyfornewmusic.org