Hands Off Report

Posted: 7/30/2007 4:26:39 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I am very tired, and very happy. I shall provide a more extensive report in due course, but for now I'll leave it to some of the other symposiasts to let you know how it was from their viewpoints - which I for one am keen to see because there was more happening than one person could take in, and from chatting to various people at the end it seems everyone has come away with some stories they could tell.

So suffice to say that it exceeded all of my criteria for success and at the end of Lydia, Barbara, Carolina and Charlie's performance in the concert I had to wipe the tears away. I can't remember the last time music did that for me. Even now I can feel the joy swelling inside me and my eyes starting to moisten.

Several tonnes of photos, sound recordings and videos made with high end equipment exist of the event, but it is going to take quite some time to gather them all together, evaluate their quality and from that decide how best to make them available and then process them accordingly. So please be patient - they will come, but we can't say when or in what form.

Now I am off to add just one of my personal experiences from the weekend to Gordon's Progress (http://www.thereminworld.com/forum.asp?cmd=p&T=1420&F=808&p=50), the very last theremin related thing that happened, in the small hours of this morning. By then most of the attendees had given in to exhaustion long before and it was the right time for some hardcore art/noise, for want of a better term.
Posted: 7/30/2007 5:05:11 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005


The news bits that have trickled in are sounding simply fantastic.

Look forward to all your various updates, and those from the other TW members lucky enough to attend.

When you can, could you post the program from the concert?

How was non-conference member attendance at the concert? Hope there were many seeds of new thermein inspiration were planted that night.

Hope you broke even at least too.
Good work you guys.
Posted: 7/30/2007 7:25:29 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Thank you. I had a wonderful time.

I will be writing to the performers in due course to ask them the names etc. of the various pieces they performed, as rigourous note taking was not a priority during the event, but the running order was... (I think)

First hour and a half. Jon Bernhardt. Wilco Botermans. Beatrix Ward Fernandez Trio. Spacedog (Sarah Angliss.) Chris Conway. The Radio Science Quartet. (There wasn't enough room for the whole Radio Science Orchestra.)

Comfort break.

Next hour. Charlie Draper, Carolina Eyck, Barbara Buchholz and Lydia Kavina, in various combinations.

Last half hour. The UK League of Thereminists. I believe I counted 19 of us, including Miss Hypnotique, who had been unable to attend the symposium but dropped in for the concert and to perform with The Lunacy Board Subcommittee for a few numbers in the evening, as did Wilco Botermans.

The audience numbered about 90, filling the available space. This includes symposiasts whilst not performing, and various friends and family, including a substantial contingent of relatives supporting Charlie, as he happens to have family local to Bushey.

The remaining 30 were tickets sold in advance on theremin.org.uk, with people travelling fair distances to be there, and a small representation of local people, including, curiously enough, the nephew of Bernard Herrmann (composed the music for Day The Earth Stood Still and many others) who, it transpires, lives a few streets away from me. He wore a T-Shirt with a Stylophone logo on it.

Our aim was to break even, and the pricing was almost spot on, but not quite. We inadvertently made a small profit (note: we have yet to make the final tally) which we currently intend to put towards the production of a/v material from the concert to ensure we make the best presentation of it that we can.
Posted: 7/31/2007 6:00:07 AM

From: UK

Joined: 5/16/2006

Greetings all,

For those of you who weren't there, he's a brief summary:

It was a blast - you really, really missed out!!!

Ok, I don't want to rub it in too much, but you really did! Masterclasses with Lydia Kavina, Carolina Eyck, Charlie Draper and Barbara Bushholtz, the concert, talks by Jake Rothman, Wilco Botterman, John Bernhardt et al. on building theremins and effects etc. were the programmed events that were all brilliant. (Even my magic-hour went down well!)

It was, as always, the un-programmed events that really made it. A few of the weekend's perks included:

* Meeting some of the most friendly, like-minded and enthusiastic people there; Wilco, Lydia, Carolina, Barbara, Charlie, Bruce, John et al. were all a great laugh and so friendly. Others there included - Peter, Phil, Paul, Stewart, John, Coco, Rob, Kevin, Damian, Simon, Jake, Neville, Richard, Christian, Antonia and Marco to name but a few...great crowd, all of you!

* Gordon playing (or rather, snake charming) two theremins with his arms and hips (had to be seen to be believed)

* Drinking Strongbow and Orange cocktails with Lydia - not many people can say that...

* being shot with a toy machine gun 290 times by Gordon's little girl, and being beaten up by all the other kids there (I was also slobbered on by Wilco's baby girl).

* me + half-drunk + piano + post-concert final night = making an absolute arse of myself. I don't recall exactly what I was doing (except butchering Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Joplin). Great fun tho!

* Terry's 'Have you seen the ghost' drinking game on the lawn...

* Fire-alarms.

Well, I hope that gives you a picture of just *some* of the 'extra-curricular activities' to the symposium main! The concert was well-done, and I'm still buzzing off it (possibly from the EM fields, possibly not :-P )

Thanks to all who attended, imparted knowledge and good humour, and a special thank-you to Gordon, Maya and JD - it was absolutely amazing!!

Sapere Aude,

Mark C.
Posted: 7/31/2007 7:11:14 AM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

It's difficult, no, impossible for me to say everything I want to say about Hands Off. Quite how Gordon managed to cater for such a wide range of different musical tastes, and produce an event that seemed, from each person's perspective, tailored precisely to what *they* wanted to get out of the event is beyond me.

For me, Hands Off has provided a literal kick-up-the-backside; a door into a mad alternate-dimension that I didn't want to leave. I think most of the real lessons I've learnt are ones I cannot put into words ... the ones you can only learn through experience. I've been thrilled, excited and nervous simultanously. I returned to Bristol after three hours sleep feeling more-or-less wide awake, fuelled by the remnants of adrenaline-levels I've never experienced before. Perhaps most importantly to me, I've made a set of friends I know I want to keep for life.

For all, Hands Off was a chance to meet like-minded people, and enjoy a combination of music that ranged from truly brilliant, to self-consciously hillarious. . . often at the same time. My only major criticism of Hands Off is that it ended, but I cannot help but feel Gordon's merely set the boulder rolling. Hands Off has made me (and hopefully others) how small the planet really is, and besides inspiring musicians worldwide, I hope it inspires at least one to organise something like this again.

Posted: 7/31/2007 9:27:28 AM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Hats off to Gordon, and everyone involved. If it happens again, someday, I'm certainly going to go.
Posted: 7/31/2007 11:08:41 AM

From: NYC

Joined: 3/6/2005

Hands Off 2007 was ridiculously amazing.

Congratulations to Gordon, who pulled this event off seamlessly. He and his wife, Maya, should be awarded a prize of infinite proportion for all their work. . . not to mention a vacation.

I'll be posting about it on my blog as soon as I recover from this nasty UK headcold.


I think I'm going to be adding a photo page in honor of everyone's "theremin face, " so stay tuned.

It was 100% worth the trip from the US.

Posted: 7/31/2007 12:10:45 PM

From: Richmond Hill, Georgia

Joined: 9/18/2005


I am so envious of you guys. I would have given anything to have been able to attend.

Philip Neidlinger
Podunk Georgia, USA
Pronounced "JAW-JA"
Posted: 7/31/2007 2:09:15 PM

From: Surrey, UK

Joined: 7/31/2007

I'd really like to add a 'balancing' post here, highlighting all the really bad things about Hands Off and how weird it was. Trouble is, even the fire alarms and horrible earth loops didn't stop us from having a good time, and it was almost surreally wonderful. How do you explain what it's like to be an 'outsider' to the theremin community, driving over to Hands Off listening to a Barbara Buchholz CD, and find yourself in a class with her 24 hours later? To have wanted to meet the virtuosi here and there, and suddenly meet them all in one place? To arrive with a pail of anticipation, and leave three days later with a bucketload of inspiration? To meet all those incredible people?

If I had a wish, it would be to repeat the weekend with more hindsight. Why didn't I know more about Bruce's illustrious career? Why didn't I connect Jen with Stickerbook until today? Why didn't I prepare my Lothars homework sooner? Think of more witty and erudite things to say to Lydia, Barbara and Carolina? Learn some better jokes for Sunday night? Bring more stuff to entertain the delightful little Laura?

Well, I guess nobody's going to grumble about Hands Off, least of all me. One thing still eludes me... how did Gordon and Maya do it? Beats me.

Phil (the old, fat, beardy one)

and the "Man goes to jail" joke will haunt me for some time.

Posted: 7/31/2007 6:29:56 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Ah, yes, the ground loops.

Massive credit has to go to JD and his co-opted assistant, Richard. For the concert we had about forty theremins all with their own amps and about fifteen of them wired into the main PA (I didn't count) and several other instruments wired in too.

We had a terrible mains plug to socket ratio, and what sockets there were were not conveniently located. By the concert every ground loop had been eliminated, and every theremin performed to it's player's satisfaction. (The massed theremins of the UK League of Thereminists were "good enough for rock and roll". They were arranged in less than an hour by about as many people as there were theremins. The process was wonderfully and quietly chaotic while Lydia and gang finished their sound checks.)

Add to this the fact that on Friday afternoon, when the main rig was being set up, there were electricians rewiring the school and the slightest thing done in the auditorium would cause a circuit breaker to trip. That really didn't help. So as I said, big credit is due.

The fire sirens. My theory is that they wanted to join in. Actually, the school did mention they had a tendency to go off when we arrived on the Friday. This they attributed to the use of women's hairspray. The fire alarm system noted the fire was in the void above the recital room.

Why one of us kept sneaking off into the void above the recital room to lacquer their head is beyond me, considering how far it was from any of our activities and what a hot, dusty place it must have been, given the gloriously hot weather.

As to how we did it; teamwork, and having faith in people's abilities.

Maya and I have some experience of organising events, starting with our own wedding, which involved three ceremonies at three different locations (Civil, Christian and Hindu) and two sets of catering - English and Gujarati (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gujarati_cuisine), all on the same day and on a minute budget. I suspect I could talk about the minutia of it enthusiastically for several weeks.

Maya covered the business side of it, her skills are in negotiating contract for services, finances and customer satisfaction. JD has proved himself a skilled technician, both on the internet and with wiring complicated rigs, and I took advantage of my internet presence to promote the event and to involve as many people as possible as soon as possible, so that the symposiasts would be a part of the team, rather than passive observers of the event.

As for the content of the symposium, credit there is due entirely to the performers. My role was simply to allocate an amount of time, and provide the skimpiest possible description of what I thought they might do, based on what I had read they were good at, and to arrange for them to have what they asked for to enable them to do the job as they wanted to do it.

That the symposium worked well does not surprise me. As thereminists we share a common profound experience, that of having learned to play the theremin. That it is profound is testified by the way that many thereminists describe the experience of playing in quasi-religious terms - trancing, ecstatic, spiritual - those sorts of words. And, diverse as we are, we share a little twist in the mind that attracted us to an admittedly unusual instrument in the first place. This is precisely the sort of thing that builds a bond between people, and predisposes us to come together from a position of trust.

Although differing in the details in every respect, my last project, founding Internet Lodge (http://internet.lodge.org.uk/), was with a diverse body of people sharing a common profound experience and that little twist that attracted them to it in the first place. And that bond and that team mentality were there from the get-go too.

And, of course, we are wizards of pitch and volume, conjuring music out of the air. And in an English Boarding School

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