Public Media Arts Hub

Video by Houston Public Media

The instrument you play without touching it

HOUSTON — The most curious quality of the theremin, one of the oldest electronic instruments, is how its eerie and ethereal sound is manipulated without the performer actually touching it.

"When you play the theremin, you need to be very still," said Carolina Eyck, a German-born musician who specializes in the theremin, as she demonstrated how she "finds" notes in the air. "You need to have good body posture so you can play with precise movements and precise notes."

Considered a virtuosic performer of the instrument — which was invented around 1920 by Russian physicist Leon Theremin — Eyck has won several awards and given concerts all over the world. Houston's Apollo Chamber Players brought Eyck to the Texas city in February to participate in a concert featuring her original compositions, as well as a work for theremin, oboe, piano and string quartet by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu.

Eyck performs Ennio Morricone's "The Ecstasy of Gold," from the 1966 western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Video by Houston Public Media

Eyck, with the Apollo Chamber Players, visited Houston Public Media's George B. Geary Performance Studio to record Eyck's original compositions "Jumping River (4th Movement – Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet)" and "Soliloquy," as well as Eyck's arrangement of Ennio Morricone's iconic "The Ecstasy of Gold," from the 1966 film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

Video produced and edited by Troy Schulze. Todd Hulslander (audio engineer) and Justin McKee (graphics) also contributed to the video. Video shot by Matt Brawley, Joe Brueggeman, Macie Kelly, Troy Schulze, and Fujio Watanabe. This report originally appeared on local station Houston Public Media.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.