New York Theremin Society - Review

Posted: 2/25/2007 12:44:34 AM

From: Florida

Joined: 11/24/2006

Just got back from the theremin society show. I have to admit being a bit disappointed. The Issue Project Room was not only a bit small but there were three columns that blocked the view of the stage area. One of them was really big about 3 or 4 feet thick. The others were only a foot or so thick but enough to obscure my view of the stage. There weren't many good seats in the room.

Most of the performers played some very experimental/performance art type stuff. Cool if that's what you're into but I was really hoping to hear some music.

Dorit Chrysler did sound great but she was far to small a part of the show for my likes. Naturally she was also blocked by the columns and it was to crowded to get a better view...

I'm not sure I'd be willing to go to their next show.
Posted: 2/25/2007 2:28:57 AM

From: Kansas City MO USA

Joined: 11/26/2006

perhaps you should come to Kansas City and hear me play. :)
Posted: 2/25/2007 11:31:20 AM

From: new haven ct.

Joined: 7/8/2005

Hey Buddy, only if I get to sit behind a column

Posted: 2/25/2007 11:50:12 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Well another cold miserable night in NYC and once again a totally packed house at Issue Project Room for the New York Theremin Society. It is just astounding how Dorit pulls that crowd in every single time so far. It is remarkable to see so many varied players with a large crowd, that is very hope giving for our instrument.

The format took a big change this month.
Former evenings have had three sections
1 - new members performing 15 min solo sets
2 - former members playing one new solo piece
3 - mass improv. for all members present.

Last night the program was focused on duets by existing members, in part at least to fit the venue's conceptual theme for the month of "couplings", without the massed theremin ending.

Issue Project Room specializes in new/avant-garde/live-experiments music and performance, so the melodic, structured and classical pieces are a momentary change of diet for them as well. Besides the crowd, it’s not only good to get there early but since these evenings tend to get very loud and I was happy I remembered to bring a cotton wad to use as intermittent ear plugs. That made the louder segments much more comfortable for me and I could take them in better last night.

The evening kicked off with Michael Evans & Andrea Parkins (electric accordion) opening with a slow changing sound sculpture based on simple small interval diads building gradually into a dense multi-textured sound-scape replete with Michael's signature hose speaker, and then receded back into the opening’s simplicity and faded away.

Elizabeth Brown & Stefanie Skaff (singer) performed an excerpt of Elizabeth’s “Rural Electrification”. Marvelous new work. I really enjoy the transporting effect the layers of sound ambience, straight forward harmonic structures and heartfelt melodic gestures have when she renders them. Elizabeth’s writing never fails to give me a glimpse into some other world complete with it’s own sagas, vocal characters, and sharp wit and brings me a smile of delight while I’m finding my way in this rare world she conjures up around me. The vocal writing brings such a sense of character place and time with very little literal text. Her settings of the text convey more of the human issuing them than the words themselves.

Like something out of a Hepburn/Tracy but with music Hollywood movie, Dorit Chrysler & Rob Schwimmer performed very enjoyable takes on Saint-Saens, the Beatles and a surprise piano and theremin version of the main themes from Herrmann’s landmark DTESS score. OK, I love melodic theremin ensemble playing and these two fit together beautifully. The theremin duets were rich and personable, a joy to witness.

After the intermission David Simons worked his theremin and midi wizardry with Lisa Karrer (vocalist) who was also sampling and processing her vocals live. This was like a visit to the living room of two highly active sound artists. Fun and surprising especially when placed in Issue Project's impressive custom sound system.

Closing Anthony Ptak & Nicolas Collins (big electronics in little tiny boxes) really showed off that system with live three-D mixed interference sound sculpturing. A central part was random electronic activity in this piece with these guys literally interfering with each other’s signals from across the room, a constant series of quick surprises.

These NYTS evenings are some of the most important ongoing (so far at least *thank goodness!* ) theremin events in the eastern states. It’s been packed to the rafters every single time. Not many theremin events get that And it is a pretty good cross section of the theremin world with classical, new composition, improvisation and sound-art players. Despite the brutal “downtown venue” aspects of the events we do get our 10 dollars worth with all these performers of our instrument, which we almost never get to hear live, and enough electronic toys to rival NASA.

Posted: 3/2/2007 4:20:08 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

The next one will be Friday March 16th.

Save the date,
get there early,
pack your ear plugs.

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