Mexico D.F. A great city enriched by professional thereminist.

Posted: 5/1/2007 1:22:53 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Mexico D.F. A great city enriched by professional thereminist.

April 21, 2007

Mexico City, one of the great cities of this planet, is even more fabulous with professional thereminist Ernesto Mendoza living and working there. Born in the Mexico City, he studied in the Escuela Libre de Musica and in the National School of Music, beginning his musical career as a bassist. At the moment Mr. Mendoza is the only known professional thereminist in Mexico and recently returned to his home town to establish his studio which is regularly used for internet radio programs as well as his musical productions.

For the month of April Mr. Mendoza has been presenting a series of educational concerts at the Museo Tecnologico de la CFE (MUTEC), Interactive Technology Museum, tucked away in the lush Chapultepec Park. Or perhaps I should say concerts which are also educational, because the music never took a back seat to the explanations. I'm very happy I was able to catch one of them.

MUTEC seems to be primarily educational and youth oriented and is equipped with modern facilities having been expanded in 2000. The exterior grounds are spotted with aged models of power plants and actual aircrafts. This delighted me even though other, more mature grown ups, might not always share my enthusiasm. Even with the tempting planetarium this is all of the museum I saw since getting to the theremin performance was the overriding goal. Though I must admit the Mad Science presentation looked like good messy fun.

This is a great setting for "therevangalism" given the electronic principles of our instrument and it's important place in technological and musical history. And it's free on Saturdays.

Performing in the comfortable and large (at least by Alternative New York City and NYTS standards; my guess is it's got c. 300+ plush seats) auditorium of MUTEC, Mr. Mendoza utilized it's modern features to include background projections during the concert. Starting off with a video introduction to the theremin, great idea by the way which allows him to get to playing music as soon as he enters, and continuing with cross fading images and videos designed for each piece created a lovely visual ambience.

Sound quality was high and since it is an intimate house, intended for lectures, the balance of theremin and accompaniment tracks was good with no noticeable latency despite the play back monitors being in front of the stage and performer with the theremin speaker upstage center.

The program included classical works by Debussy, Bach, Morricone and Faure, popular standards from North America, as well as traditional boleros and popular pieces of Latin America. It had something for everyone in attendance and still kept a sense of balance and flow between diverse works.

Children made up at least half of the audience. Anyone who's done performances for grade schoolers can tell you they can be a tough crowd, especially for the classical arts. The background animations may have helped some but it was Mr. Mendoza who held their attention so well and his kindness and patience was evident through out and especially during the question and answer portion. He thankfully corrected the on-going confusion with "Good Vibrations" and the Tannerin, which caused a technical journalist in the audience to promise to print a correction to one of her recent articles about the theremin.

Anyone who still believes quick discreet passages are not possible when playing the aether should have heard this performance of La Bikina by Rubén Fuentes. It's not an easy piece and is often reduced to "muzak" even by conventional instrumentalists. This rendition had a brisk pace and was filled with musical passion and brought out the wit of the composer. One of my favorite Latin standards Besame Mucho by Mexican composer Consuelo Velazquez, with which Trio los Panchos first won my heart years ago, was played with such delicate and tender phrasing I felt transported back to the romantic gilded age of Mexico's musical clubs.

Consummate musicianship and good taste along with a little wit were paramount during the entire hour. On any solo instrument this would have been a most satisfying experience, on the theremin it was magical. Having someone who can do it well play music for you live is one of the most important events in human culture plus knowing how difficult some of the pieces are simply made me giddy with joy when I saw them played so free of conscious effort.

Outreach! For this month Ernesto Mendoza was playing the role of "Johnny Apple Seed" as well as "Maestro de Theremin" and has planted many aetheric seeds in a lot of minds young and old. Incredible as it may sound I believe the theremin is even less known in Latin America than it is here in the North and in Europe. Even the smallest percent of interest kindled in his audience members will contribute to forming the foundation of an appreciative audience for aether music in Mexico.

Like most of us Mr. Mendoza has had to teach himself and his playing technique utilizes the principals of Rockmore's aerial fingering fused with his own physical approach to the instrument. Theremin's are very difficult to acquire there and as of writing no Moog theremin distribution channels were found in Mexico. Having two Standard Etherwaves in his studio equips him for teaching but difficult hurtles remain for curious musicians and aspiring thereminsts simply in acquiring professional level instruments. Ernesto Mendoza is passionate and driven to expand the place of the theremin in his country. We should encourage Moog Inc. to pursue Spanish speaking markets and to endorse active artists like Mendoza who are presenting Bob Moog's theremins seriously to wide audiences.

Mexico was once described as the only true surrealist country. I can think of no better new ground for the theremin to blossom in and I continue to feel grateful Ernesto has devoted himself to making it happen in that magical land.

Posted: 5/3/2007 5:05:58 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Excerpt from
El link musical de esta semana está en:

La Esquina del Blues y otras Músicas

By Sandra F. Redmond Ortiz

Comentarios sobre el Theremin

Hace algunas semanas en este espacio, comenté sobre el poco conocido instrumento musical denominado Theremin, que se toca pero no se toca. Al respecto es conveniente hacer dos precisiones que Ernesto Mendoza Polanco, el único thereminista mexicano me hace notar: El profesor Theremin murió en 1993, y no en 1945, como informé en mi nota anterior.

La segunda aclaración que me menciona Ernesto: los Beach Boys no usaron un theremin en su canción “Good Vibrations”. Emplearon un tannerin, que es muy parecido, casi son primos. El tannerin tiene un diapasón, según explica Ernesto Mendoza, y tiene marcas que hacen más sencillo encontrar las notas, a diferencia del Theremin, en que no hay referencias de la ubicación, por lo que literalmente se “toca” en el aire, como si este etéreo elemento pudiera tocarse.

Por cierto, ya concluyeron las presentaciones sabatinas de Ernesto Mendoza en el Museo de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad donde tuvo gran éxito. Esperemos verlo en escena muy pronto y compartir con ustedes la invitación a un taller para aprender a tocar el theremin, el instrumento que no se toca.

Lic. Sandra F. Redmond Ortiz
Coordinadora de Enlace y Gestión Técnica
Centro de Tecnología Educativa
Av. Juan de Dios Bátiz esq.Luis Enrique Erro s/n
C.P. 07738, Del. G. A. Madero, México, D.F.
Posted: 5/3/2007 5:11:21 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

I forgot to mention "Moon River".
That chest nut very rarely moves me,
this time it really got to me during his concert and sounded like a new song. Maybe without the words I could appreciate better how well written the music is.
Posted: 5/3/2007 5:51:43 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Ernesto Mendoza is a great theremin ambassador, indeed. He has an engaging and warm presence that comes across through his photos and videos (unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to see Ernesto in person).

My personal favorites are his settings of some of the traditional Mariachi music that has been played on Spellbound.

Ernesto's combination of fine musicianship, his pleasant demeanor, and approachable repertoire positions him to make many friends for the theremin.

Is great to read that Ernesto is finding success with the Theremin in Mexico.
Posted: 5/4/2007 3:19:01 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

For those interested, here's Sandra's initial article.

La Esquina del Blues y otras Músicas

Theremin, el instrumento que se toca pero no se toca

Por Sandra Redmond

El bolero “Bésame Mucho” de Consuelo Velázquez, es una de las piezas más interpretadas en todo el mundo, en todos los idiomas, en todos los estilos y con todos los instrumentos, hasta con theremin.

¿Con qué? Con Theremin, un instrumento electrónico, inventado en el siglo pasado, entre 1917 y 1920 por el ruso Lev Sergeivich Termen y que es el precursor de la música electrónica.

Este instrumento se toca sin tocarlo. Sí, su principio radica en el electromagnetismo. Algo similar a lo que ocurre cuando se altera el campo electromagnético de una radio, de tal forma que al acercar una mano se modifican las frecuencias y se produce un sonido. Dependiendo de la cercanía o el alejamiento de la mano, e incluso de la cabeza o el cuerpo del ejecutante, se hacen variar los tonos (agudos y graves), así como el volumen. No es necesario tocar ninguna de sus dos pequeñas antenas. No tiene teclas, ni cuerdas, ni ningún aditamento que requiera ser pulsado, golpeado, frotado, ni nada.

El theremin es un instrumento microtonal, es decir, puede producir una gran variedad de tonos y su rango alcanza cinco octavas, más o menos lo que abarca un teclado común y corriente. Ahora bien, ¿y cómo suena? Pues su sonido está entre la voz humana y el de un violín en las notas agudas, y el de un cello o una tuba en las graves.

Para Ernesto Mendoza Polanco, el único thereminista mexicano, interpretar este instrumento es una forma nueva de hacer música. Pero también requiere de gran concentración y sobre todo de una técnica de digitación aérea muy precisa, aunque él mismo ha desarrollado la suya y tiene intenciones de crear su propia escuela mexicana de thereministas.

El theremin tiene como máxima intérprete a la violinista Clara Rockmore, que entre 1930 y 1940 ofreció recitales en Estados Unidos de música clásica y fue gran amiga del inventor, Lev Sergeivich Termen, quien nació en 1896 y murió en 1945. Ella desarrolló una técnica con posiciones en las que mediante mínimos movimientos de los dedos puede tocar con intervalos.

En la década de los 50’s este instrumento fue utilizado comúnmente para la producción de efectos sonoros en las producciones de Hollywood, particularmente en cintas de terror y de ciencia ficción tales como “Spellbound”, de 1945, “Ultimátum a la Tierra”, de 1951. También puede verse un buen ejemplo en la película cómica de Jerry Lewis “Delicado Delincuente”, de 1957. En el ámbito musical, los Beach Boys lo usaron en 1966 para grabar su pieza “Good Vibrations”, por citar algunos ejemplos.

Ernesto Mendoza actualmente colabora con el programa dominical de radio “Spellbound, a brief program of music for Theremin” que se transmite por Internet. De igual forma, Ernesto ofrece, todos los sábados de este mes, conciertos gratuitos en el Museo Tecnológico de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad, en la segunda sección de Chapultepec.

Si deseas conocer más sobre este instrumento, asiste a estos recitales en los que pone de manifiesto la capacidad del theremin y su aplicación en diferentes géneros, desde la música clásica, el bolero, el rock, el new age y lo que sea. La cita es a las 11:30 horas. Y si deseas más informes, consulta su sitio web:

[photos could not be included here]
Posted: 5/19/2007 1:41:07 PM
Ernesto mendoza

From: Mexico city Mex

Joined: 1/7/2006

Thank you very much for your comments and your friendship to John and Kevin. Thanks to Thomas Grillo too, who is a great Thereminist and enthusiast ¡¡¡
it has been a hard fight against ignorance and indiference about some institutions who "promotes" culture here in Mexico. It is hard to say but those are times in wich it seems that culture and education it has no priority in my Country. I am very sorry for that, however i will continue with my work cause, people are happy with it. Results where good wiht "Mutec" gigs, and new things are in my way. Thanks to Thereminworld and people in Spain too.

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