The chamber ensemble Decoda distinguishes itself as a group “…that comprises musicians, entrepreneurs and passionate advocates of the arts.” With a busy calendar of performances from Abu Dhabi to Iceland, Decoda manages to find time to develop innovative projects that impact those at the margins of society – performing in schools, homeless shelters and prisons. In the past year and change, the group launched a chamber music institute with Skidmore College, partnered with the Sing Sing Correctional Facility and was named the first Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall. Dean Mark McCoy of DePauw University School of Music recently interviewed Decoda’s violinist Anna Elashvili, violist Nathan Schram and cellist Caitlin Sullivan.
On how the group first met:
ANNA ELASHVILI: “All of us were part of Ensemble ACJW, which stands for the Academy Carnegie Hall, the Julliard School and the Weill Music Institute. This is a program that’s a two-year fellowship, and it brings musicians together to collaborate in doing chamber music concerts and [teaching] in New York City public schools.”
On Decoda’s guerilla-style concert marketing:
NATE SCHRAM: “To try to get as many people to know about a concert coming up, we’ll just go out into the streets and just start playing something. Or we’ll start walking around the hallways [of a school building], improvising and … we might run into each other and start playing together, and people will start asking us what we’re up to, and we say we’re classical musicians, we’re playing a concert and it’s gonna be fun.”
On what the group tries to accomplish during performances:
CAITLIN SULLIVAN: “I think that one of our goals is … to have listeners have a profound experience when they’re listening to music. … We’re trying to kind of decode what music is and what it could mean to different people.”
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.