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Guest Post: Savannah Theremin Summit

TW: Philip Neidlinger (a.k.a hypergolic) recently performed in a multi-Thereminist event in Savannah, GA. He shares a summary and his thoughts on the event with us below.  The amazing theremin you see him using in the video is his home-built vacuum tube model based on designs from Mark Keppinger.

The Savannah Theremin Summit was a rousing success despite technical difficulties. I was very honored that Dan Burns (Burns Theremins) and Joe Machos took time and traveled for hours from their respective homes to attend the performance.

The show started off in Round Robin format with me leading off. Ricardo Ochoa and Richard Leo Johnson were next, followed by Melissa Hagerty. We did three round robins followed by two combination pieces with all of us (always a difficult thing).

Audience attendance was way down from expectations due to weather, but I estimate about 100 in attendance.

I started off with "Shot in the Dark" by Mancini. This piece is wonderful to show off the theremin. I hammered it. The audience erupted in applause afterward.

Next was "American the Beautiful" and "Les Berceaux" by Faure. Again, wonderful response and did well.

Last in the Round Robin was "Old Feather Blues" by M. Tempia. This is usually my best piece. However, my keyboard guy and I had a disjoint. I thought I was supposed to follow him, and vice versa. This one fell apart about 2/3's way through, but we picked up and finished. Being self-critical the way I am, I was disappointed, but everyone else was complimentary. I think Peter's observation about audiences and theremins is true.

The other musicians did very well. Richard Leo Johnson has a custom Martin guitar with an integral Etherwave circuit board. This is truly an interesting artifact. Richard has the guitar on loan from Martin's museum and must eventually return it since it is a "one of a kind" item.

Melissa has a wonderful singing voice, almost angelic. She used her Etherwave and Moog Theremini.

Ricardo Ochoa is an accomplished violinist. His band, Velvet Caravan, was voted the best jazz band in Savannah recently. His keyboard guru, Jared, volunteered to accompany me. Ricardo and Richard performed some wonderful guitar/theremin/violin pieces during their parts of the Round Robin.

I had cordial and enjoyable conversations with Dan Burns and Joe Machos both prior and afterwards. Each got to try out Gabriella. Again, I am truly honored they took time out of their busy schedules to come down.

After the show was over, I spent at least an hour and a half demo'ing Gabs and letting folks try her out. I really enjoy doing this.

I wore a purple Alzheimer's Awareness ribbon in honor of my longtime friend Andy Blackburn, who was diagnosed with this illness in his late 50's.

Any complicated performance like this is bound to have issues, and this one had plenty. However, all in all it was very enjoyable for us and the audience. The museum director, Tony Pizzo, was gushing with appreciation and very complimentary. There will likely not be another summit for many years, per the museums policy of not repeating acts. Due to my packing the house almost 5 years ago is the only reason Tony contacted all of us for a double dose of theremin brain stimulation.

One final thought…."Shot in the Dark" is a brilliant piece for the theremin. Try it!

Video of the entire event will be available in the near future.