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Stony Brook Students Awarded USArtists International Grant

Ensemble Decipher after performing at the NowNet Arts Conference on November 4, 2020.

The modular and technology-focused experimental music group Ensemble Decipher has been awarded a USArtists International grant by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation to perform at the New Music for Strings Festival in Denmark in August 2021. New Music for Strings is co-founded and run by Anne Sophie Anderson, a Department of Music alum.

Ensemble Decipher after performing at the NowNet Arts Conference on November 4, 2020.
Ensemble Decipher after performing at the NowNet Arts Conference on November 4, 2020.

Current members of Ensemble Decipher include College of Arts and Sciences Department of Music students Joseph Bohigian PhD ’20, Robert Cosgrove DMA ‘20, Taylor Long DMA ‘22, Eric Lemmon PhD ’21, Chelsea Loew PhD ’21 and Niloufar Nourbakhsh PhD ’21.

Since its founding in 2017, Ensemble Decipher has evolved into a flexible, adventurous ensemble dedicated to advancing the work of composers and sound artists experimenting with vintage, contemporary and emerging technologies. Through the grant, Ensemble Decipher will commission a new work from composer/violinist Mari Kimura to be premiered at the New Music for Strings Festival alongside works from the ensemble’s repertoire.

“This is a project we’ve been working on together for several months in order to expand the reach of our technology-focused repertoire beyond our home in the New York area, said Bohigian. “We’re extremely grateful to the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation for affording us the opportunity to see our project through, and we can’t wait to bring our recently commissioned music to new audiences in Denmark.”

This engagement is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The members of Ensemble Decipher share a desire to introduce their community to a sonic expansion of musical performance through their unconventional instrument — an assembly of laptops, speakers and human performers. Ensemble Decipher was started in 2017 by current Stony Brook PhD candidate Niloufar Nourbakhsh, but progressively grew beyond the medium into a modular, technology-focused experimental ensemble using anything from laptops to accelerometers attached to rocks, boxes trained via machine learning to respond to touch, acoustic instruments, and anything in between. The Ensemble strives to dissolve the notion that new music requires performer virtuosity by embracing the technological advancements of our time to create complex and unique soundworlds that redefine the capacities of new music while also reflecting on the power structures that lace them. 

Ensemble Decipher has worked with notable U.S.-based composers and technologists including Department of Music Associate Professor Margaret Schedel, Mara Helmuth, Hannah Davis, and Lainie Fefferman and has premiered works by many others. Recent feature performances include concerts at the Society of Electro-Acoustic Music, International Computer Music Conference, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Network Music Festival and an ensemble residency at EarFest. In December 2020 the group was awarded a SUNY PACC prize for Performing Arts, Creation and Curation.

View a highlight reel of recent performances from Ensemble Decipher, including works in order: toy_3 by Eric Lemmon, Overshare by Lainie Fefferman, HOLDING_SPACE by Yaz Lancaster and Stone Dreams by Joseph Bohigian.

USArtists International supports performances by U.S. artists at impactful international festivals and performing arts marketplaces outside the United States and its territories. The program supports the engagements of exemplary solo artists and ensembles across all performing arts disciplines including dance, music, theater, multidisciplinary work and folk/traditional arts.

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