October 2019 - Duo Filmharmonia

Duo Filmharmonia - Michael Tsalka and Dennis James
The October 2019 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast features spooky Halloween music from the USA and the Netherlands. Rick Reid's interview guests are Duo Filmharmonia.


"Dance of the Seven Ghosts" - Yeapsystar (Weert, Netherlands)
"Funerary Polka" - Divine Hand Ensemble (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
"Music Box" - Dorit Chrysler (New York, NY, USA)
"Maria Callas has been Brought Back to an Unnatural Life" - Victoria Lundy (Denver, CO, USA)
"Instant Horror 3" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)


"Opera Glasses" - Phlogiston Theory and Ron Allen (Denver, CO and Seattle, WA, USA)
"Time Shadows" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)
"No Static at All" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)


Duo Filmharmonia: Michael Tsalka and Dennis James


Visit the Theremin 30 Calendar of Theremin Events for links and details of events mentioned in this episode.


Theremin 30 Playlist

Submit your music, suggest a calendar event, or volunteer for an interview by writing to: theremin30podcast@gmail.com. Visit Theremin 30 on Facebook.

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*The full-length recordings featured in this show were used with the knowledge and permission of the artists and composers. Please support the artists by visiting their websites, purchasing their recordings, and attending their performances.


Producer/Writer/Host: Rick Reid
Opening and closing announcer: David Brower

Copyright 2019 Rick Reid



Please note: This is a machine-generated transcript that has not yet been manually edited. There will be numerous errors. Check back soon for a corrected version.

David Brower  0:04  
This is Theremin 3030 minutes of Theremin music news events and interviews with a new episode about every 30 days. Now here's your host from Denver, Colorado, USA Rick Reid.

Rick Reid  0:19  
Hello and welcome to the only regularly scheduled podcast devoted to Theremin music and events. Since it's October and the Theremin is so often associated with horror and sci fi music, I decided to make this a Halloween episode. I've got spooky music on the way from the USA and the Netherlands. And I'll be visiting with the members of duo film Harmonia. They'll be playing a live music score for the silent movie thriller The hands of orlok on Halloween night in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Let's get the Halloween festivities started now with music from the Vienna Netherlands based thereminist. Yep, see star. This is dance of the seven ghosts.

Rick Reid  7:02  
We started that set with dance of the seven ghosts from yep see star who you may also know as Marielle Vossen. Then we heard funerary polka from the divine hand ensemble based in Philadelphia. That track was created for a walking tour App of the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery. You can download 10 tracks from that project for free from the band's website, follow the link from Theremin thirty.com Also, be sure to check out the music video for a funerary polka on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist. It's time now for the Theremin 30 calendar of Theremin events with highlights of live Theremin performances you can attend in the coming weeks. On October 4 Karolina Iker performs a new Theremin concerto by dalot Marcia with the Boston modern orchestra project, Lydia cabina, will be the guest instructor at the fourth international Theremin Academy in Santiago, Chile from October 9 through the 13th. Also on October 13, Charlie Draper debuts his new band to retro faneca with a pair of concerts inside a historic London railroad tunnel. Project pimento will be performing Theremin lounge music in San Francisco on October 17. And the band we just heard the divine hand ensemble as a couple of shows in Philadelphia on October 5 and the 30th. Check out our new and improved calendar with all the details about these shows and more at Theremin thirty.com let's get back to this spooky Halloween music now. First up is a track called a music box. It's a brief cue from Dorit Chrysler soundtrack for the Austrian TV mini series. m city hunts a murderer. Then we'll hear a track by Victoria Lundy called Maria Kelis has been brought back to an unnatural life. It's from her Miss American vampire album.

Rick Reid  15:22  
There's more music to come on the Theremin 30 podcast and we'll talk with duo Philharmonia about their Halloween night performance of that Hans of orlok. So stay tuned, if you dare.

Rick Reid  16:11  
On October 31st duo Philharmonia will be performing at the Winspear center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, pianist McConnell, Taka and organist and Theremin Dennis James will be performing a classical music score to accompany a screening of the 1924 silent horror film, the hands of orlok some trivia for you, Dennis James took Theremin lessons from none other than Clara rockmore and one of his Theremin was custom built for him by Bob mug. I recently spoke to duo Philharmonia via Skype about their upcoming Halloween show. Tell me about duo film Harmonia. How did you two get together since you obviously don't live on the same continent.

Dennis James  16:54  
It's my general profession. I actually have a 50 year career accompanying silent film, generally at the theater pipe organ, as opposed to Mikhail who is a concert pianist. Around 2013. I was studying clavichord go you tell them how we met.

Michael Tsalka  17:16  
There is a club called symposium, which is a five day event. And the only thing you can hear our lectures and performances and club records. And it is a beautiful small city quite close to the Alps, and quite close to Milan, the folks who play the clavicle quite wonderfully bizarre and reserved, usually and live in the old world. I arrived there and I saw Dennis sitting and having a large bottle of hard liquor and smoking a huge cigar. And I immediately have a feeling we will become great friends and I approached him and we started speaking and then I found out that he is traveling the world most of the year just like I do, and then I knew will become great friends.

Dennis James  18:02  
We met there and Italy and I invited Mikhail to stop by my home when he was in America on a concert tour that following winter, we specialists in historic music instrument revival always are bonded immediately when we meet. So I had this idea that we could combine his talents with my proclivity for historical music instrument textures, and my specialty was silent film. And I had the idea that we could score a film called Hamlet, a very famous silent film from the early 1920s, made in Europe that I had been commissioned for a Shakespeare Festival at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Michael Tsalka  18:46  
We actually set with the show, and we managed to score about 30 40% of the film within one day.

Dennis James  18:54  
The concept behind that very first score that we did together was the idea of taking pre existing music by Johann Sebastian Bach's sons. This isn't new music it isn't new music written and music in this case, not even intended for film use.

Rick Reid  19:11  
Tell me about your concert coming up on October 31 in Edmonton, Alberta.

Dennis James  19:17  
This particular show is an outgrowth of how we put together the hamlet show. At the beginning, we didn't even know what repertoire we were really thinking of doing. And this particular movie features a concert pianist. In fact, the very opening scene of the movie is a concert pianist performing in a concert in a major concert hall. And this is the show is all about a concert pianist. It's a horror movie and not to give away the plot too much the title hands of or lock or lock is the pianist and the hands become quite prominent because very early in the film, the pianist is leaving that concert he gets in a train and then the train Suddenly has a collision with another train. So things happen and then everybody get and they find the body of the panel is still alive. And so they do some surgery and they had to remove his hands. His hands are cut off

Michael Tsalka   20:17  
The nightmare of every pianist. There is one piece which one can see the pianist is playing the Nocturne by Chopin and also based on that we chose a score which is we are performing many of the great Nocturnes polonez sonatas of Chopin in many cases were playing the whole piece or solitude, and it's a beautifully arranged score was determined arriving at very specific points into the plot.

Dennis James  20:48  
The use of the Theremin is really the key element that pulled the whole thing together into a logical continuity with the past because it was invented in 1919, and did exist through the 1920s. And this movie was made in 1924. I was around beginning to play Theremin at the point when left tear man was still alive. And I had an interlocutor actually asked lev if he knew that the Theremin was ever used for silent film. And the reply came back that not to anyone's knowledge was the Theremin use like this for silent film music that comes in and it is a bit of a historical maneuver to use the Thurman live with a silent film. But one little band of history is close enough.

Rick Reid  21:41  
could you address how you balance the three instruments in concert? Because obviously, the Theremin has some novelty value that maybe draws more attention to itself because of that. And the pipe organ is just so incredibly rich and loud. And not just like the piano. But the piano, it seems like it's got some competition on stage.

Michael Tsalka  22:02  
Well, I think that we're using the term in mostly attend the segments where they're great moments of drama when there is a frightening image a period when there is something which is very striking, and try to use that also, at the end of the piano pieces. Actually. In some occasions, Dennis is improvising something that which he does very brilliantly. And in other cases where the melody of the piano is very penetrating, dramatic. Sometimes aggressive, then actually determine takes over so I would say that determine and the piano work very much together actually.

Rick Reid  22:45  
Dennis, why don't you explain the logistics of switching between the Oregon keyboard and the Theremin? How do you have that setup? And how do you handle that

Dennis James  22:52  
for me to play the Oregon and the Theremin at the same time is absolutely impossible, because my hands are busy with whichever instrument is being played. And so of course, the conception of a duo gives me the ability to very careful and very calculated through the sequence of building the scoring to shift while Mikhail is playing a piano piece. I can then be over at the Theremin which is sitting right next to me just next to the Oregon bench I can spend to it. And then just at the right moment I'm able to come in. And so that's the idea as Mikhail mentioned that the basic use of the Theremin is a tag and punctuation for the piano and then doing especially to transition into the next piece. This is actually a gigantic Piano Concerto conception where the piano soloist is doing almost all of the work. And the origin when it plays is almost always doing the work of an accompanying orchestra. And then the Theremin is the additional effect. That brain is in the logic of Hollywood film scoring. Then this is an incredible organist. And, you know, I think that this scores which shows for example, some of the more Jeet was he can wonderfully colorful polonez and some of the more dramatic and beautiful Nocturnes they're all very symphonic and orchestrated the nature the piano pieces. So it all works very beautifully.

Michael Tsalka 24:24  
I think that actually these three of instruments bring something which was most probably not heard before we score the company silently.

Dennis James  24:34  
Oh, I expect. Absolutely. 

Rick Reid  24:36  
After the Halloween performance in Edmonton will other people get a chance to see this performance elsewhere?

Unknown Speaker  24:42  
We definitely have many plans of performing it. We had the great pleasure of performing recently at the bottom exalts Moog and elbphilharmonie and I have many wonderful contacts in New Zealand and Australia and I've contacted them offering this here So it was certainly played in many, many venues in the next year.

Michael Tsalka  25:03  
And I'm very happy that the Theremin is so portable, that I'll be able to put that in my luggage and take it all over the world without difficulty.

Rick Reid  25:12  
Well, thank you very much for taking the time to talk about your techniques and this upcoming concert. I wish I could go see it. I'm a huge fan of silent movies and pipe organs and have their amens. I wish you great success with this performance and all the future performances as you take the film around the world.

Dennis James  25:28  
Very good. Thank you so much.

Michael Tsalka  25:30  
Thank you.

Rick Reid  25:40  
A link to ticket information for a dual film harmonious Halloween performance of the hands of Warlock is on our events calendar at Theremin thirty.com. With the time we have left here some spooky ambient music from phlogiston theory that happens to be my stage name. This is called Instant or three.

Rick Reid  28:51  
That's all the time we have for this month. I want to thank feature artists yep see star divine hand ensemble Dorit Chrysler and Victoria Lundy for helping me put together a thrilling chilling Halloween playlist. Also a special thanks to duo Philharmonia for talking with me about their upcoming Halloween gig, the hands of orlok. In the November episode, I'll be visiting with instrument designer Mickey delt about the Thera morph. It's affordable analog synthesizer that can be played with an infrared gesture controller, kind of like a Theremin. And I've got music from Norwegian experimental recording artists, Bergen impro storebrand. If you have music you'd like me to play in the November show, please contact me through the website or Facebook page. I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween and that somehow it involves a Theremin. Until next time, I'm your host, Rick Reid. Thank you for tuning in.

David Brower  29:51  
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