Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is hosting a special concert that will spotlight local thereminists for the first time in almost five years.
Normally the theremin, an instrument with two metal antennas that uses movement of the human hands to control frequency and volume, is associated with eerie, science fiction-esque sounds.
But for this concert, the musicians are taking a more classical approach to the instrument by creating original songs with up to five different theremins in the same room.
All of the musicians come from different stylistic backgrounds like jazz, classical and psychedelic rock. When combined, the sounds of each theremin create a powerfully unique fusion.
This is the first time this group of thereminists will be playing together. But since the scene for this niche hobby is so small, it was easy to get everyone together.
"There are so few thereminists that they are so accessible," says local therminist Philip Neidlinger. "Since there are so few of us, it's easy to network."
Neidlinger was the last to play a theremin concert at Ships of the Sea back in 2009. This time around, Neidlinger, who is also an electrical engineer, will be playing a theremin that he built himself using vacuum tubes and coils.
"It took two years to build," he says. "I consider it to be my masterwork."
Melissa Hagerty of local experimental rock band Omingnome will portray a theremin style different from her counterparts. Instead of playing solely classical styled songs, she plans to add soundscapes with melodies that float over the group's standards, adding a psychedelic touch.
"A lot of time in the writing process, the theremin part comes last," Hagerty says. "But I feel like I learned to play theremin like a guitar because I learned to accompany with a guitar instead of the traditional way, which is with a piano."
Hagerty will also be playing duets with thereminist and violinist Ricardo Ochoa of Velvet Caravan.
Ochoa plans to play both the theremin and violin for the performance, with the possibility of piano parts written just for the show.
Local musician Richard Leo Johnson will be showcasing sounds from a guitar with a theremin built inside. This allows him to pair traditional acoustic guitar progressions and loops, along with experimental sounds and frequencies of the theremin.
The end of the show will put the group's musicianship to the test: They'll be improvising as a team to form a freestyle collaboration.
The thereminsts move in dancelike motions while they play, making for a performance that is visually stimulating. Adding more to the aesthetics of the performance is a live psychedelic light show designed by Planetary Projections.