I grew up around classical music all my life. My father would play recordings, or sing and play it on his piano, or I would share the stage with him as we performed in opera choruses over a span of nearly thirty years, starting with the Gulf Coast Opera Theater in Biloxi, Mississippi in the late 1970s, and with the Mississippi Opera Theater in Jackson, Mississippi as well as Jackson Choral Society up to about 2010. I also performed with The Magnolia Chorus, a barbershop chorus associated with The Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. I sang first tenor (high notes).
I started playing the violin around the age of seven, and later learned the flute. It was not until about July of 2006 that the theremin found it's way into my home, and haunted me with it's ethereal sound. I had no idea I would find my self actually learning to play, and enjoy the theremin. It's the most difficult instrument in the world to play "well", but in, or near the right hands, it can produce the most huanting music you'll ever experience.
Theremins are electronic musical instruments which are played without being touched. They look a bit like a radio with a vertical antenna on one end of a wooden or plastic box, and a loop shapped antenna mounted horizontally on the other end. The vertical rod is used by the musician to control pitch, while the loop is used for dynamic volume control while playing. You can learn more about theremins on the web at google, and thereminworld on the web. If you've ever watched old sci-fi or thriller movies from the 50s, chances are, you've encountered the haunting sounds of the theremin.
I have used the theremin to produce some of the musical scores for indie films such as Golgotha by Karla Davis, and Murderabilia by Michael Usry, as well as many youtube videos. I later produced a dvd which provides basic theremin lessons. I even give theremin lessons over the web via skype. This means that students around the world now have access to learning how to play this fascinating instrument.
The track, Waltz, was featured as part of a prop in the indie film, Murderabilia, and we hear it in the Richard Room scene as a tape recorder is seen playing background music for the murderabilia shop. See my web site for more on the movie.
In this album, I feature the theremin as though it were a human voice without words. I play the melody lines of classical opera, rather than just use the theremin as an effects device. One notable collaborator on this album is Dan Wilson. He performed the accompaniment track for Alto Volo using the Hammond Novachord, which is a keyboard instrument known as a synthesizer which was built in the 1930s. Many folks would mistake this instrument for an electric organ by it's very appearance. It is not. It is a true synthesizer in every respect, and aspect of it's construction. The theremin worked well well with the novachord as an accompaniment. There is a video on youtube which features Alto Volo. Dan has also uploaded the same tune featuring wonderful images of the Novachord in his video, Duet for Theremin, and Novachord.
My original works on this album are in the jazz style, and I thought it would be a nice thing to add a small sampling of the genres I'm comfortable playing along with the classical works. The accompaniment tracks on Mint Julep Fantasy, and Spooky Old Graveyard for example were produced using a software program known as Band in A Box. Theremin Radio Network's accompaniment was produced by Patrick Harkins who peformed on real guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard. All of the piano accompaniments were produced by web based accompaniment producers such as Kristian Banatzianou of pianoaccompaniments, and youraccompanist, and piano-accompaniments.
The theremin on this album is the Burns B3 Pro Theremin produced by Daniele Burns of soundslikeburns on the web. It is the tiger maple finished device seen over the keyboard in the album art.
The original works are copyrighted Thomas Grillo, and the classical works are works known to be in public domain (written prior to 1924).