Theremin cello makes first appearance in almost 70 years

For the first time since 1934, Edgard Varèse’s Ecuatorial will be performed with its intended instrumentation – for two theremin cellos, baritone voice and orchestra.


For more information contact:
Philip E. Rehard, Concert Manager or
Amy Greenan, Assistant Concert Manager
(716) 645-2921

For immediate release
September 15, 2002


Slee Sinfonietta
Slee Sinfonietta.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – For the first time since 1934, Edgard Varèse’s Ecuatorial will be performed with its intended instrumentation – for two theremin cellos, baritone voice and orchestra – as the highlight of the Slee Sinfonietta’s second concert of the 2002-2003 season on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 at 8:00p.m. in Slee Concert Hall on UB’s Amherst campus. This concert, presented by the UB Department of Music in partnership with Adelphia Communication’s Artscope, includes a pre-concert lecture at 7:00p.m. given by UB musicologist Olivia Mattis, a Varèse scholar whose enthusiastic research and study of electronic music is extensive; she was also the first to conduct an interview with Leon Theremin (1896–1993, known as the “Russian Edison”) when he came out of Soviet seclusion in 1989. A panel discussion will follow the concert, featuring Theremin biographer Albert Glinsky and others. Works for brass ensemble by Gabrieli as well as a work by the Sinfonietta’s Artistic Director, David Felder, will also be performed. Guest musicians also include Kevin Bowyer, an English organist who will be presenting a recital at Slee later in the week, and members of Metalofonico, a brass and percussion ensemble directed by UB faculty member Jon Nelson that is performing on this season’s Slee/Visiting Artist Series on October 17th.

Tickets are priced at $12, with discounts available for senior citizens ($9), UB faculty/staff/alumni ($9), WNED members with card, ($9), and students ($5). Tickets can be obtained at the Slee Hall box office Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm, the UB Center for the Arts box office Tuesday through Friday between noon and 5pm, or at Ticketmaster outlets including all Kaufmann’s stores and Movies Plus locations. To charge single tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at (716) 852-5000. Tickets may also be obtained on the internet at

Convenience charges apply for all phone, outlet, and internet purchases, but not for Slee Hall or Center for the Arts box office purchases.

Plenty of star power and historical significance fuel this concert’s program. For the performance of Varèse’s Ecuatorial, renowned bass-baritone Nicholas Isherwood will be featured along with the husband-and-wife duo of Jonathan Golove and Mary Artmann on theremin cellos. These instruments – stringless, bowless cellos that were a variation of the basic theremin design – are replicas built locally by Colden-based, award-winning instrument builder and restorer Floyd Engels, who brilliantly reverse-engineered them from a vintage non-working theremin cello in a private collection. This performance will mark the debut of these reconstructed instruments (which were never commercially produced), as well as the first time that Varèse’s piece has been performed in its original version since its 1934 premiere. (Since that time, another electronic instrument more commonly used in orchestral settings, the Ondes Martenot – developed a decade after the theremin’s first appearance – has always been used.)

The Slee Sinfonietta was formed in 1997 by composer David Felder and conductor Magnus Mårtensson. This ensemble performs a series of concerts each year devoted to lesser-known repertoire, particularly that of the pre-classic era and recent contemporary music. Advanced students in performance are invited to participate along with faculty artists, soloists, and regional professionals in the production of these unique concerts designed to contribute new possibilities for concertgoers within the University and the Western New York region.

The program for the Slee Sinfonietta will include:

Edgard Varèse’s Ecuatorial

Giovanni Gabrieli’s Venetian Canzoni

David Felder’s Shredder

and a work by Emil Harnass

Photos available via e-mail:

Slee Concert Hall’s web address for updated information is:

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