Hands Off is a biennial UK based theremin event.
Two years ago we organised "Hands Off - The Theremin Symposium", a long weekend of talks, master classes and workshops focussing primarily on classical theremin skills and culminating in a three hour concert "Hands Off - The Theremin Concert" showcasing the diversity of British and International theremin playing. We closed the doors for the symposium when we had fifty attendees, and the concert was also sold out.
We all had a brilliant time.
The plan [i]was[/i] to repeat and expand on the symposium this year. (Actually, that was the second plan - the first plan fell at the starting gate.) Over the last few months we have been staring the Credit Crunch hard in the face. It has affected the Charlton family directly, and we are not the only people in the theremin community having a hard time of it. We have come to the conclusion that this is not the right time for a big, costly affair. As a return attendee I would not want to pay more than I did last time for something I had done before. I am also mindful that last time the cost did exclude some UK based thereminists.
Do not fear! I am indefatigable. All this means is that now is the right time to do something different. To offer something not offered by Etherfest in the US or Without Touch in Germany. And to avoid overreaching our ambition and scale down a bit.
I have an idea. The first step is to see if you like it.
Firstly - we need to shift the focus a little, from the theremin as the last great classical instrument, to its other identity as the first great electronic instrument. Let's celebrate that this time around!
I have some experience of great weekends of electronic music, courtesy of my record label "White Label Music" who do a thing they call a "Sonic Weekend" a weekend where a bunch of keen electronic musicians come together and record an album. Just like that. I was dubious at first, but I've been to three of them now, they work and I know how to run one. You can find the results on iTunes. here (http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewArtist?id=253546610).
Notice that there are four albums, from three weekends. The "Kitchen Cuts" album was an impromptu side-project at the second Sonic Weekend, recorded without the assistance of their resident producer and finished off online after the event, and my personal favourite of all four albums.
This is the format I am considering. We find a small hall that doesn't mind a little noise and hire it for a weekend, sharing the cost equally. We'll try and cut a deal with a local hotel to accommodate us all overnight, and during the day we'll lay on big pots of Spaghetti Bolognese and such like. Everyone brings what equipment they can - theremins of course, monitors, mics, laptops, and other instruments - if you've got a musical skill, bring it to the party! We break up into groups, we talk, we plan, we play, we record, we mix as we go along, (we finish off on our computers afterwards) - plenty of busy time for everyone, but also time to chat, to hang out, watch the other groups recording, swap tricks and tips.
And at the end, as if by magic, there's an album. I'll be honest - it's probably not going to make you rich. But it's a great memento of a great weekend just hanging out with like minded musicians, doing what musicians do - making music.
Twenty people recording is about right. There's probably also going to be room for some kibbutzing - if you're not confident about recording live, just come and hang out - we'll be glad of your money. :-)
So this is what I suggest for 2009 - "Hands Off - The Album."
Are you interested?