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Eclectic Series: “LIKE A FISH OUT OF TROUBLED WATER” / Music for Piano, Haken Continuum, and Theremin* / Rob Schwimmer

December 8, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Rob Schwimmer



Music for Piano, Haken Continuum, and Theremin*



I’m thrilled to be back at Bargemusic! There’ll be new music for each of the mentioned instruments + possibly a special guest(?)

In addition to originals the show may contain selections from A to Z! Arlen to Zemlinsky! Selections will be announced from the stage.

Also I may finally get to play Frederic Rzewski’s “No Place to Go But Around” which I was scheduled for at the Rzewski Festival at Merkin earlier this year but an injury prevented that from happening… so now may be the time! It’s a great early piece written right before his epic “The People United.”

A note re the title-The “troubled water” refers to trying to play theremin in a moving room, an idea which could be characterized as heroic or just a very bad idea depending on how rough it is on the performance night… We shall see.

*depending on the weather


I love these 3 instruments!

Piano: What I love about the piano is obvious-It’s an orchestra at your fingertips! Drawbacks: Once you’ve played a note you can only decide when to let go of it. Also no vibrato, sustain etc. (But this doesn’t inhibit my love of playing the piano… Nevertheless they are facts.)

Haken Continuum: The Haken Continuum also feels like playing an acoustic instrument because of its incredibly precise hi-tech electronics and sensors. Nothing will replace the theremin but in a way you can do with one finger on the HC what it takes your whole body to do on the theremin. Then you look down and think, “Wow, I have 9 fingers left!” Yes, the Haken Continuum has the expressiveness of the theremin but adds back the polyphony/harmony that I would miss if I only played the theremin. The HC is a huge step forward in the evolution of electronic instruments and I love it! I think about the moment Leon Theremin thought “Let’s make an instrument out of electricity”… I imagine that the Haken Continuum Fingerboard arose from a lightning flash moment like that one… There is magic here… A technological wonder and yet the technology is invisible in the service of expressive playing.”

Theremin: The great thing about the theremin is that it gives you expressive phrasing! That means I can hold notes forever (don’t worry; I won’t), bend notes, add vibrato, and think about phrasing more like a singer than the piano allows. Strangely enough it feels like an acoustic instrument when playing: The immediacy and accuracy of what you’re doing is reflected totally. That means if it sounds like bad, well, then you played bad-It’s just doing exactly what you tell it to do. Drawbacks: It’s really hard to play in tune (especially on a boat) and it’s monophonic-Just one note at a time.


About Rob Schwimmer

Rob Schwimmer is a composer-pianist, thereminist, vocalist and Continuum player who has performed and recorded throughout the world. His compositions have been featured in theater, television, documentaries and feature films. A founding member of the acclaimed Polygraph Lounge with Bang On A Can’s Mark Stewart, Rob’s recent solo CD “Heart of Hearing” which featured Rob’s original compositions was rated #4 in Slate Magazine’s “Best Jazz of 2019” calling him “…a mesmerizing pianist of astonishing drama, wit, and virtuosity.” Rob Schwimmer has worked with Simon and Garfunkel, Wayne Shorter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stevie Wonder, Bobby McFerrin, Willie Nelson, Esperanza Spalding, Paul Simon, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Gotye, Mark Morris, Chaka Khan, Laurie Anderson, Bette Midler, The Everly Brothers, Christian Marclay, Matthew Barney, Arif Mardin, Adam Guettel, Paul Bley, Noah Preminger, The Boston Pops, Mary Cleere Haran, T-Bone Walker, Sam Rivers, Ethan Iverson, Kat Edmonson, Marc Shaiman, Marc Ribot, Frank London, Gotye’s Ondioline Orchestra, David Krakauer, Maria Schneider, Michel Gondry, Mark Morris Dance Group, Trey Anastasio, The Klezmatics, Bernie Worrell, Jimi Tunnell, Nels Cline, Annette Peacock, Mabou Mines, Geoffrey Holder, 9 Horses, Kelsey Lu, John Cale, Steve Buscemi, Iva Bittova, Theo Bleckmann, John Stubblefield, The Roches, Jack Quartet, Scott Robinson, Edie Brickell, Teo Macero, Hal Willner, Vernon Reid, Ethel, James Emery, Bela Fleck, Kurt Vonnegut, Tamar Muskal, Odetta, Drepung Loseling Tibetan Monks, Sussan Deyhim, Joseph Jarman and Alwin Nikolai/ Murray Louis Dance.



Rob Schwimmer is exclusively represented by Bernstein Artists, Inc. http://www.bernsarts.com


Tickets: $35


December 8, 2023
7:00 pm
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