[S04E06] January 2023 - Conall Gleeson and Alexx Mazonowicz


Alexx Mazonowicz and Conall Gleeson

In the January 2023 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid plays theremin music from the USA, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Rick's special guests are Music Director Conall Gleeson (right) and Thereminist/keyboardist Alexx Mazonowicz (left) of the New Note Orchestra. They will be performing in Brighton, England on February 14th.


*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. 







Copyright 2023 Rick Reid 



Please note: This transcript was created with the help of speech-to-text AI.  It may contain some errors.

David Brower  00:04

This is "Theremin 30," thirty minutes of theremin music, news, events, and interviews, with a new episode about every 30 days. Now, here is your host from Denver, Colorado, USA -- Rick Reid.

Rick Reid  00:20

Hey, welcome to the January 2023 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast. I'm your host, Rick Reid, back after taking some time off to concentrate on other projects. I hope you missed me because I have to admit, I did miss you.

This episode is one you won't want to miss, because I have new theremin music from the USA, France, Mexico, and England.  And my special guests are Conall Gleeson and Alexx Mazonowicz from the New Note Orchestra.  They will be playing a concert in the Brighton, England, area on Valentine's Day.

To get things started, I am going to play a song that first appeared on the Octopus Project's 2007 album "Hello, Avalanche." I played it once before, back in September of 2021. This time around, though, it's a new arrangement recorded last April in the Moog Sound Lab in Asheville, North Carolina, to showcase the redesigned Moog Etherwave theremin. Yvonne Lambert plays the Etherwave in the traditional way, and bandmate Toto Miranda uses another Etherwave as a CV controller for a Moog Matriarch synthesizer. Here is The Octopus Project with "I Saw the Bright Shinies."

Rick Reid  08:51

"We started the show with The Octopus Project with their reworking of  "I Saw the Bright Shinies" recorded in the Moog Sound Lab. You can watch their video on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist. After that, I played a brand new live-looping performance by French multi-instrumentalist and composer Charlotte Dubois. Charlotte performed that piece with a Moog Claravox theremin and a Moog Grandmother synthesizer. You can see her performance on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist as well. There is a link to the playlist in this month's show notes at Theremin30.com. 

After a short break, I'll be back with the Theremin 30 calendar, some theremin news headlines, and a new recording featuring Ernesto Mendoza. And later in the show, I'll visit with Conall Gleeson and Alexx Mazonowicz from the New Note Orchestra. So, stay tuned!

Rick Reid  09:54

It's time now for a look at the Theremin 30 calendar of theremin events!  

Aleks Schurmer is featured in the soundtrack of the new French-language movie "Mistral Spatial," now playing in theaters in Montreal, Canada.

On January 27th, Yoko Onishi hosts the monthly RCA Theremin evening on YouTube.

On January 28th in New Bedford, Massachusetts, James Bohn will present a lecture and theremin demonstration prior to the Magic of Disney concert by the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra.

On February 8th, Thorwald Jorgensen performs in Montreal, Canada, and About Aphrodite has a concert in Hamburg, Germany.

Over the weekend of February 10th, Dorit Chrysler and Charles Hobbs will present a series of events in Graz, Austria, to celebrate the opening of the "Calder Plays Theremin" art installation.

And on Valentine's Day, the New Note Orchestra will be performing in the town of Hove near Brighton, England. We'll hear more about that later in the show.

For details about these events and more, check out the interactive calendar on Theremin30.com.

I also want to take a moment to share a couple of recent news items with you.

First of all, congratulations to Icelandic recording artist Hekla Magnusdottir for earning Album of the Year honors in the Rekyavik Gravevine music awards.

Also, thereminist Kip Rosser is helping raise awareness and funding for the Juliet Shaw Legacy Project, a campaign to preserve the archives of one of America's earliest professional thereminists. You can find details about the project by following the link in this month's show notes.

Now, let's get back to more music with a very cool new track from "Tharsis Project" featuring Ernesto Mendoza and Jon Carr.  This is called "Time Traveller."

Rick Reid  16:08

That was "Time Traveller," a new recording from "Tharsis Project" featuring Ernesto Mendoza on theremin and synthesizers and Jon Carr on drums. You can learn more about the artists by clicking on their names in this month's show notes.

Coming up after this break, I'll visit with Conall Gleeson and Alexx Mazonowicz from Brighton, England's New Note Orchestra, so stay right here.

Rick Reid  16:57

The New Note Orchestra is an eclectic music ensemble based in Brighton, England, that uses musical collaboration to help people in recovery from addiction. I recently visited with their music director Conall Gleeson and their keyboard and theremin player Alex Mazonavich, to find out how this most unusual charity organization works and how they incorporate the theremin in their live concert performances.

Conall Gleeson  17:02
Yeah, thank you for having us.

Alexx Mazonowicz  17:26
Thanks for inviting. 

Rick Reid  17:28
Conall, you're the music director?

Conall Gleeson  17:30
That's right. I've been working with New Note Orchestra since 2016. And what an amazing journey it has been for me. 

Rick Reid  17:37
And Alexx, you play keyboards and, of course, theremin. 

Alexx Mazonowicz  17:41
Yep, that's right. 

Rick Reid  17:42
What is the New Note Orchestra? 

Conall Gleeson  17:45
Well, New Note Orchestra was set up in 2015. Its focus is to attract people who are in recovery from drugs and substance abuse and using music as a way to sustain their sobriety and their well being. What we do is try to develop those persons as musicians. They've had a whole journey where they self-identified and come to terms with their addiction. People want to move on from that kind of way of self-identifying. And we help them self-identify as musicians, so they come as addicts and become musicians. And that's how we like to see it. 

Rick Reid  18:17
So, Alexx, how did you get involved with the orchestra? 

Alexx Mazonowicz  18:20
I am in recovery. And I have been in recovery for almost 15 years and a couple of months it will be since I had my last drink. I joined in 2020, about a month before we all locked down actually for COVID. It was just after I'd moved to Brighton, but I heard about the group from a friend in another recovery group. Somebody just mentioned to me about the orchestra. And I looked it up online and kind of liked what they were doing. And I listened to some of the music. I was quite impressed by it. And so I just found out where they were practicing. And I turned up one Tuesday in February 2020 With my theremin under my arm just basically where do I plug in? 

Rick Reid  18:34
What was that like to have a thereminist show up? 

Conall Gleeson  19:01
Oh, it was so weird because primarily we've got lot of people play guitars, we've got people doing keyboards, and we also have a multitude of people playing hand chimes. So when a theremin arrived at the door with Alexx I was thinking, well, how are we going to work this one into our sonic ambience? But Alexx has proved to be very versatile and imaginative with his theremin. And it's been a blessing and a wonderful addition to the orchestra. 'Cause it can do two things: it can play melodies, it also can add these strange textures to the sound that we make, you know. So that's really fantastic. 

Rick Reid  19:35
I guess we should define the word orchestra because the New Note Orchestra is not a traditional symphony orchestra. 

Conall Gleeson  19:42
It's called an orchestra because it's quite large in size, a bit larger than an ensemble or a band, though might have 20 to 25 persons so it kind of in size and embodiment constitutes an orchestra. That's where the name originally was come from, but we might call ourselves an electric orchestra. 'Cause we're plugged in, we're amplified. And we're a lot of guitars, we've got some wind instruments. And we've got lots of synths and we've got a theremin, yeah.\ 

Alexx Mazonowicz  20:06
I think orchestra, though, is a good description of the ambition of what we're trying to do. I think if we just called ourselves a group, a lot of people would be expecting a rock group or something like that. Whereas with an orchestra, there's this idea of something big and very long, ambitious pieces, that we did. So, it works for me. 

Conall Gleeson  20:24

Rick Reid  20:26
I'm curious, from your point of view, Alexx, how you find your place in the orchestra. And I mean that both sort of philosophically as a thereminist, and also practically, where you need space around your instrument to be able to perform it correctly. 

Alexx Mazonowicz  20:34
One of the reasons I joined was because I wanted to play my theremin with a group, right? And I think that's a problem that a lot of thereminists I've spoken to have is that they spend a lot of time practicing at home, maybe playing to backing tracks, or tracks that they recorded themselves. Whereas I used to play electric guitar in alternative bands, and I missed playing with other people. And I've always liked to be a little bit different, right? Why would we choose such a difficult and weird instrument if we didn't like being different? So philosophically, where I like to fit within the group when I'm on theremin is kind of by bringing different textures to it. I play a Claravox now. I've got the delayed circuit on it. And it's got the different settings on it, which are really useful for bringing new textures in. And we do one piece in which people are playing recorders and stuff to emulate birds. And I like to actually break the rules and touch the pitch antenna with my fingers to try and make that chirping sound. Also, the Claravox has the white noise circuit on. I've used the software app to connect the pitch antenna to the filter. The Claravox has got that very beautiful Moog filter on it, to try and create kind of a wind effect. And you put that with some delay. So I can get a lot of textures that way. And that's really interesting, because when I started playing Ttheremin seriously, which was only about five years ago, I wanted to kind of get away from using it as a sound effects machine, which you know there's a little snobbery within the theremin community used for sound effects, which I kind of agree with to a point because when you can get melodies out of it they're very beautiful, but you know, in the orchestra situation, you give what you can, and I'm playing with other people. And sometimes it's really nice to be able to do that. 

Conall Gleeson  20:38
When we perform, we've kind of scripted our pieces. But when we get together, and we're collaborating, we're all improvising, and we're responding to the sounds other instruments make. So in that respect, it's really exciting then, finding how a theremin might blend and to add an interesting texture to a guitar drone, or to get to the theremin to sound like a percussion instrument. When we collaborate or meet every Tuesday, we're exploring these different ways that a stheremin might work with the rest of the orchestra. 

Rick Reid  22:53
I can imagine situations where you have to tell Alexx, you know, we don't really need a theremin in this song. 

Conall Gleeson  23:01
That's part of the flexibility and the genius of Alexx because he can also play the keyboard. It's never a case that we don't need a theremin. But it's often the case that we need someone to do some of the synth work. And then that's where Alexx brings in his expertise as well, because he's so talented. He's got such a wide range of skills, you know. Got to use them all. 

Alexx Mazonowicz  23:19
You flatter, you flatter me so, Conall. Going back to what you were talking about actual space. I think in the early days, I set my theremin up when we rehearsed, actually quite apart from everyone. And I'd be playing and people would come up and go, Oh, what's that? And, you know, obviously, the pitch would suddenly change. On stage it's been okay, I sometimes have to tune the pitch antenna quite tight, just to kind of make sure that nobody else gets into range. But we're a big group, so we have to have big spaces to play in anyway. 

Conall Gleeson  23:54
Ironically, the theremin takes up a lot of space doesn't it? 

Rick Reid  24:00
Also you have to have an amplifier. So how does that work? 

Alexx Mazonowicz  24:04
We've already got people playing bass guitars and electric guitars and we've got like rock drummers in there as well. So generally people are kind of fighting the volume. But Conall does a fantastic job of actually getting people to turn down. For me, learning to sit back a little bit whether I'm playing theremin or keyboards, there's been a really big learning experience. actually learning to step back a bit in the mix. It's been really good. But again, I've got a Claravox so I can always plug some headphones in. I can monitor the pitch on a pitch pedal. And I do have a small practice amp, and I'll use that sometimes at a low volume just to make sure I can hear. 

Rick Reid  24:44
Now you have a show coming up in February called Love Fest. Tell me about that. 

Alexx Mazonowicz  24:50
Love Fest, yeah. Well that's on Valentine's Day and we are playing in a church down the road with a few other artists from Brighton, but it's an alternative love show. So it's not just about romantic love. We're talking about brotherly love. We're talking about lots of different types of love. And we've got some kind of alternative love poems that we're going to be reading over our normal repertoire. But yes, an alternative Valentine's evening. 

Rick Reid  25:18
Thank you very much for taking the time to visit with me and I wish you good luck with the concert coming up. Love is always a good thing. And music is always a good thing. 

Conall Gleeson  25:27
Yeah, thank you. And I love your show. It's great. 

Alexx Mazonowicz  25:30
Yeah, it's fantastic. Thank you very much for everything you do, Rick.

Rick Reid  25:33

If you live in southern England, make a date to see the New Note Orchestra's Love Fest concert on Valentine's Day. Follow the link on the Theremin 30 calendar for details. Also, check out the New Note Orchestra website at newnote.co.uk.

Now with the time remaining, let's listen to an excerpt from a new experimental music piece by Modulight, a collaboration between thereminist Chris Conway and synthesist Jez Creek. From their recently released second album, "Liminal Vision," here is "Primordial Descent."

Rick Reid  29:06

Thank you so much to the Octopus Project, Charlotte Dubois, Tharsis Project, and Modulight for allowing me to share their music with you. Also, a big thanks to Conall Gleeson and Alexx Mazonavich from the New Note Orchestra for visiting with me. And a special thanks goes to the folks who support my efforts with small one-time and monthly donations and by shopping in the Theremin 30 online merch store and pro shop.  

If you'd like to get involved with this podcast, I'm always on the lookout for new, professional quality theremin music to play on the show and expert guests to interview.  So, reach me through the contact form on the website.

Until next time, I'm your host Rick Reid. I'll see you somewhere in the ether.

David Brower  29:50

You've been listening to the "Theremin 30" podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin30.com.