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Katica Illényi: Building Bridges with the Theremin

Hungarian musician Katica Illényi singing on stage.
Katica Illényi singing on stage.

Saggini: From what I see on YouTube, your recitals must be very entertaining. Can you describe one? And do you have a traveling orchestra or do you use local musicians?

Illenyi: In my concerts, I play the violin and the theremin. I also sing and tap dance. Between my musical pieces, I tell entertaining stories to the audience. The most important thing for me is that people have a good time during my concerts. When I plan a new concert selection, it usually takes a year till I am ready to perform it because of all the time I spend learning, practicing, rehearsing, and working out all the details.

For concerts, most of the time I use local musicians, and I always work with my favorite conductor István Silló. Playing with the Péter Sárik jazz trio is also gratifying for me. A lot of times I perform with only my pianist István Bundzik, who is an outstanding jazz/classical musician.

Hungarian musician Katica Illényi dancing.
Katica Illényi dancing.

Saggini: Being a dancer, as well as a thereminist, what do you think of the Terpsitone? Do you think it could be an engaging addition to your shows?

Illenyi: No, I never thought about that because I never saw a Terpsitone, and I also don’t know how it works. I just read about it in a book that is about Leon Theremin’s life.

Saggini: Since you are about to embark on a U.S. tour, is there a message you would like to convey to your American fans?

Illenyi: I like American people because they are very open and friendly. You can feel this already at the first moment when you arrive at the airport. They are just different than people in Europe. It doesn’t mean of course that European people would not be friendly, but anyhow you can feel the difference in the first moment. And this is also true when I perform for the American audience. So my message for the people living in the US would be: I can’t wait to meet you again in person because playing for you gives me so much joy & fun!!! ☺

13 thoughts on “Katica Illényi: Building Bridges with the Theremin

  1. Ruth Zaballero says:

    Great interview with Katica Illenyi who plays the Theremin Instrument and about her music , also the Violin and how she went about playing these two instruments….Great photos and write up on Katica, thank you sir, so much for this I enjoyed this very much!

  2. Rick Saphire says:

    I was very pleased to read this educational and entertaining story about Katica Illenyi and her love for the Theremin. I am fortunate to be Personal Representative for Katica and we are working hard to someday, in the not too distant future, to be scheduling a theatrical tour for this talented lady here in the USA. Please visit http://www.Katica.us to enjoy her wonderful talents on the violin, her dancing, her singing, and of course her amazing skill with the Theremin. Rick Saphire.

  3. Christophe Becker says:

    Two years ago I sent two completely original in design theremin boards to St. Petersburg Russia. I am about to complete my last build with improvements. Yes better use of the volume control where the outside field is more aggressive than the inside or quieting near the loop. This final build is placed in an EtherWave Standard box, it also will end up somewhere in Russia. – To be decided http://www.oldtemecula.com/theremin/tw/phoenix-first-time2.wav

  4. Serje Zaslavsky says:

    Hi Christophe! The sound is so lovely! Great job! I live in Saint Peterburg and have been playing theremin since 2010. Do u still make this addition to Etherwave? I would love to have one. Please let me know!) All the best!

    • Christophe Becker says:

      I sent you a fb friend request for more info of what is in development. I have a private group where you know everyone. It was Valery Shamarin that gave me encouragement to keep advancing over the last 20 years.

  5. Bevan says:

    Great article! Really enjoyed that Valerio.
    Question: I have a Big Briar Series 91A that my mother used to play. I am, however looking to sell it. Could you give me any recommendations for listing this Theremin? Also, what would this unit approximately go for in today’s market? I can’t find any for sale anywhere for reference. Thank you sir!

  6. Valerio Saggini
    Valerio Saggini says:

    Hey Bevan! Thank you.

    As for the Big Briar Series 91A it is pretty rare . I can’t tell you exactly what is its market value although I suppose it could be around 3-4 K. But I could be wrong. It depends also on the conditions, of course. Do you have also the original diamond speaker? If you send me photos I will gladly publish them in the News section along with your description. By the way, I’m curious, what kind of music did your mother play with it?

  7. Bevan says:

    Thank you so much for the response Valerio! If by Diamond speaker, you are referring to an external speaker, then no. She always played it with just the internal speakers, or if in a large room, would connect to our PA system. We traveled as a family in a Christian ministry which conducted musical programs at various churches and venues. Mom would always play a sacred hymn on the theremin. Mom & Dad acquired their first theremin directly from Robert Moog in the late 60’s. (Wish I still had that one!) I took a few pics of the Big Briar 91A that we have. Where could I send them brother? Thanks my friend!

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