January 31, 2022

Announcing the 2022 Cheswatyr Commission!

Niloufar Nourbakhsh is the inaugural composer to receive a Cheswatyr Commission, and  International Contemporary Ensemble offers the world premiere of C Ce See on Saturday, October 15, 2022, 7:30 pm at NYU Skirball. Not only does the award come with a commissioning fee and world premiere, but Nourbakhsh also received mentoring from composer Suzanne Farrin during the composition process and a high-quality recording for her use going forward.

The new piece is part of a full evening of works chosen jointly by ICE and the Iranian Female Composers Association (IFCA), centered on the theme of Peyvand (پیوند), the Persian word for Connectivity. Nourbakhsh's  C Ce See expresses the importance of social and artistic connectivity by way of a custom kinetic sculpture, designed by Roxanne Nesbitt, which brings the tones and colors of violins, violas, and cellos into a united sound by a single perpetually moving strand of bow hair. The program also features works by Golfam Khayam, Kimia Koochakzadeh-Yazdi, Nasim Khorassani, Nina Barzegar, Anahita Abbasi, Bahar Royaee, and Aida Shirazi. Steven Shick joins as conductor.

Niloufar Nourbakhsh continues to achieve distinction as a composer, the most recent of which are as winner of the 2022 Beth Morrison Projects Next Generation Competition and recipient of the inaugural Cheswatyr Commission and 2019 Female Discovery Grant from Opera America. An Iranian-American composer, Niloufar Nourbakhsh's music has been commissioned and performed by Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Library of Congress, I-Park Foundation, National Sawdust Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Camerata Pacifica, Shriver Hall Series, Center for Contemporary Opera, Women Composers Festival of Hartford, PUBLIQuartet, Forward Music Project, Calidore String Quartet, Cassatt String Quartet, Akropolis Reed Quintet, and Ensemble Connect at numerous festivals and venues including Carnegie Hall, Washington Kennedy Center, Mostly Mozart Festival, Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music, and many more. A founding member and co-director of the Iranian Female Composers Association, Nilou is a strong advocate of music education. In 2014, she worked as the site coordinator of Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She is currently an adjunct faculty at Peabody Conservatory as co-artistic director of Peabody Laptop Orchestra, and she regularly performs with her ensemble, Decipher. Nilou is a music graduate and a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from University of Oxford. Among her teachers are Lisa Weiss, Laura Kaminsky, Daniel Weymouth, Matthew Barnson, Margaret Schedel and Daria Semegen. She received a Ph.D. in music composition from Stony Brook University under the supervision of Sheila Silver.

Suzanne Farrin, winner of the Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Fellow, explores the interior worlds of instruments and the visceral potentialities of sound in her music. Opportunities to hear her music this season include a Composer Portrait in February 2023 at Miller Theatre which will feature International Contemporary Ensemble's world premiere performance of Farrin's Their Hearts are Columns and selections from dolce la morte, an opera based on the love poems of Michelangelo, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Suzanne is currently Professor and Chair of Music at Hunter College after 10 years leading the Composition Department at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, S.U.N.Y. She holds a doctorate in composition from Yale University. Corpo di Terra (New Focus Recordings) is devoted entirely to her music, which may also be heard on the VAI, Signum Classics, Tundra and Albany Records labels. In addition to composing, Suzanne is a performer of the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument created by the engineer Maurice Martenot in France in the 1920s as a response to the simultaneous destruction and technological advances of WWI. Her life as an interpreter on the instrument has taken her to venues such as The Kitchen for the premiere of The Stimulus of Loss (commissioned by Claire Chase for Density 2036) and the Abrons Arts Center in NYC, the Centro de Artes in Buenos Aires and television, where she was featured in an episode directed by Roman Coppola on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. She is featured as a performer in Chicuarotes, directed by Gael García Bernal, which ran in theaters throughout Mexico and was premiered at Cannes, as well as the Iranian film Sade Ma'bar (Blockage) directed by Mohsen Gharaie, which won best film in the New Currents section of the Busan International Film Festival.

International Contemporary Ensemble strives to cultivate a mosaic musical ecosystem that honors the diversity of human experience and expression by commissioning, developing, and performing the works of living artists. The Ensemble is a collective of musicians, digital media artists, producers, and educators who are committed to creating collaborations built on equity, belonging, and cultural responsiveness. Now in its third decade, the Ensemble continues to build new digital and live collaborative environments that strengthen artist agency and musical connections around the world.

Iranian Female Composers Alliance (IFCA), co-founded by Anahita Abbasi, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, and Aida Shirazi, is a group of artists who have combined their experiences and creativity to create a platform for otherwise-unheard musical voices from the Iranian diaspora and build and support a growing community of female and non-binary composers.