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Theremin virtuoso Randy George to perform at Fredonia
Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Theremin virtuoso Randy George to perform at Fredonia

Randy George

Music enthusiasts – especially those whose tastes go outside of conventional boundaries – are in for a rare treat when Fredonia’s Ethos New Music Society brings Randy George, one of a small handful of musicians in the world whose credentials include theremin virtuoso, to campus for a concert of new music on Friday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m., at Rosch Recital Hall.

George, who earned a music degree at the University of North Texas, has devoted eight years to developing a mastery of the theremin, widely regarded as the most difficult instrument to play.

Though George has performed solo in recitals and with chamber ensembles across the United States and Europe for nearly five years, he is perhaps best known for his contributions to the escalating worldwide awareness of the theremin on the Internet. His video creations featuring the theremin in a variety of musical contexts have been viewed by more than 20 million people since 2006. George’s technical knowledge of theremin playing is augmented by his specialization in software development for interactive multimedia art.

The theremin and similar instruments that mimic its sound have been used in television, film and rock music. A theremin-like sound is featured in the theme music of the original “Star Trek” series, in the 1950s science fiction classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller “Spellbound” and on three Beach Boys’ songs, including their psychedelic pop hit “Good Vibrations.”

Regarded as the world’s first electronic musical instrument, the theremin is the only one played completely without physical contact. Due to the instrument’s unconventional interface and lack of spacial reference, the theremin is very difficult to learn. As with any musical instrument it requires discipline and dedication over many years to gain any degree of proficiency.

 

The theremin was developed in the 1920s by Russian physicist Lev Sergeyevich Termen through his innovative work in radio physics. The theremin player uses arms and hands to interact with two electromagnetic fields surrounding the instrument that continuously affect its pitch and loudness. The tone quality can vary depending on how its signal is processed. It can sound like a human voice, a string instrument or even possess qualities of a wind instrument depending on how it is played.

Tickets for the concert, which is part of the Ethos New Music Society’s festival, are $4 for Fredonia students and $8 for general admission, and are available at the door and the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center.

The Ethos New Music Society presents music of the 20th and 21st centuries with the support of Student Association.


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