We are thrilled to share that Associate Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts Steven Kemper has joined Oberlin Conservatory’s Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA) Department in a tenure-track appointment, as of the fall of 2023. Previously a professor of music technology and composition at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, his journey from the realms of music technology to composition has equipped him with a unique ability to bridge the gap between digital music and the physical world. This aligns seamlessly with TIMARA’s interdisciplinary and imaginative philosophy.

Kemper’s enthusiasm for joining the TIMARA department is palpable: “I’m very excited to be joining the TIMARA department! I have consistently been impressed with the boundary pushing creativity and innovation I have seen from TIMARA students, alumni, faculty, and staff. I look forward to both working with students to develop their technical and creative abilities and drawing inspiration from the TIMARA community for my own work.”

Kemper’s creative work spans musical robotics, instrument design, human-computer interaction, gesture, and the art of musical expression. His creations include vibration-motor actuated performance systems, including the Tremolo-Harp, Lux Tremens, Manus Tremens, and Tremolo-Chimes. As a co-founder of Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, Kemper is particularly dedicated to crafting and composing music for robotic instruments. Among other projects, he co-developed the Remote electroAcoustic Kinesthetic Sensing (RAKS) System, a wireless sensor interface tailored for belly dancers, collaborating with composer and dancer Aurie Hsu ’96, Oberlin Conservatory associate dean of academic affairs and a TIMARA professor.

Kemper’s return to a liberal arts college environment is underscored by his eagerness to contribute to the artistic and intellectual tapestry of Oberlin. He plans to introduce courses in sensor-based instrument design, musical robotics, and data sonification. Kemper’s accomplishments and accolades are numerous. It’s no surprise, therefore, that he is drawn especially to the creativity of TIMARA students and the diversity of musical approaches they explore. No doubt, TIMARA students will continue to create and thrive with Kemper’s guidance and unique skill set.  

A word to the wise and a special note to Oberlin’s Gear Co-op in advance of their next Rando Bando event: asked for a fun fact to share with the department, Kemper shared that during his time in graduate school, he played guitar in a touring Taiwanese surf rock band! It’s never too early to start recruiting! 

Welcome to the department, Steven!