The Vermont Cynic

Seasoned musician to perform in Lane Series

Photo Credit: Courtesy

Photo Credit: Courtesy

Sarah Robinson, Staff Writer

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Somewhere between a violin, cello and the human voice lies the sound of the electronic instrument, the theremin. Its relative, whose bright red neoprene keyboard is distinctive, is the Continuum Fingerboard.

Composer and performer Rob Schwimmer is a maestro of both these instruments, and he’s coming to UVM.

The UVM Lane Series, a foundation devoted to enriching the culture of UVM through concerts and performances, is sponsoring Schwimmer’s concert titled “Heart of Hearing” Jan. 26.

The performance will consist of classic americana-jazz tunes as well as his own compositions for the theremin and the Haken Continuum.

The theremin was invented by Léon Theremin in Russia in 1920, in the midst of the Russian Civil War, according to a 2012 BBC article.

Two metal antennas form a space between them called a pitch field. One hand can be moved to control the volume while the other hand controls the frequency or pitch. All of this is done without physical contact with the instrument.

The result is an eerie, haunting melody that can play any original or classic composition.

The Haken Continuum is essentially a keyboard with a sound similar to that of the clavinet, a popular instrument from the 1970s. The sound is a cross between an organ and funk bass, according to HakenAudio.com.

The Continuum Fingerboard, as it is commonly known, has three axises. The sound gets higher as a hand moves up the scale on the x-axis, like on a piano. When more pressure is applied on the y-axis, the “key’ is played.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Schwimmer has performed on stages around the world.

He has shared the stage with some of music’s most acclaimed musicians including Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder and Willie Nelson.

Schwimmer, along with multi-instrumentalist Mark Stewart, formed the duo Polygraph Lounge, a group whose sound is simultaneously bizarre and harmonious.

Mary Huhn of the New York Post described the duo as “musically high-minded but hilariously lowbrow and always maniacal” in a March 2007 article.

In many ways, Schwimmer performs as if he is one with the theremin — his eyes closed, mouth moving, both hands conducting the theremin without touch.

Videos of Schwimmer covering The Beatles’ song “Because” and Eric Clapton’s “Steppin’ Out” on the Haken Continuum can be found on his YouTube channel.

A discussion with Schwimmer will follow the performance, which is at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the UVM Recital Hall. Tickets are $25 for the general public and $5 for students, and can be purchased at uvm.edu/laneseries.

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Seasoned musician to perform in Lane Series