Interview with Theramin Virtuosa Lydia Kavina

Last week I chatted over the phone with a charming and expansive thereminist – the world’s leading theremin player, actually – Lydia Kavina, an incredible performer, a composer, and an advocate for the strange instrument her great uncle Lev Termen created in 1928 – as well as for the ideas behind it.

The interview is live now at The Skinny, so go ahead and click.  Only one thing didn’t make it into the published version of our wide-ranging conversation (certainly my most interesting interview since I drank Americanos with The Room‘s Tommy Wiseau last February): the story of Pat Clancy, the first thereminist to introduce me to the instrument.  I told Lydia this, making a broader point about the difficulty of learning the instrument.  Clancy, I told her, picked up the theramin in his high school – he learned from an older player, but he couldn’t take lessons from an expert.  I shared his story: that he more or less taught himself, learned the “Feather Theme” from Forrest Gump, and carried a love for the instrument into college, where we met.

“Excuse me, what was the name of this gentleman?” she asked me.

“Patrick.  Pat Clancy.”

I told her I wasn’t sure if Pat still intended to advance his studies: he gave his theremin to Thomas Banchich, scholar of the ancient Greeks and enthusiast of many things wonderful and weird – like the theremin.

One understands why we had to cut this from the published interview – but Kavina was interested in Clancy’s tale; it’s part of the bigger story. I only hope she jotted down his name.

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