Charlie Draper plays theremin and ondes Martenot, two rare early electronic instruments distinguished by their unique modes of operation and otherworldly sounds. These instruments are ideal partners: besides being among the earliest electronic musical instruments, they are capable of producing similar tones, rely on similar technologies, and demand comparably keen attention to pitch.
Based in London, Charlie has collaborated with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Oslo Opera House, Tate Britain, Worldcon Philharmonic, Radio Science Orchestra, British Library, WOMAD Festival, the Welsh National Opera House, London ExCEL Centre, New York Public Theatre and Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He has performed many principal orchestral works for theremin and orchestra, including Schillinger's "First Airphonic Suite" (UK premiere), Rózsa's "Spellbound Concerto", Herrmann's "Suite from the Day the Earth Stood Still" and Elfman's "Mars Attacks!". His performances have been featured on BBC 1, BBC2, ITV, BBC Radio 3, Channel 4, and Classic FM.
A passionate and experienced music professional, Charlie collaborates with those in need of these instruments' uniquely evocative tones, and is equally at home on stage and in the studio, working with or without traditionally notated music.
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The theremin is one of the most unusual instruments ever devised. Invented in 1920 by the Russian physicist and musician Leon Theremin (1896-1993), the instrument is distinguished both by its haunting tone resembling the human voice, and by its unique mode of operation, which involves no physical contact from the player. By moving his or her hands around two metal antennae, the player can - like the conductor of an orchestra - summon music from the air.
The ondes Martenot is among the earliest successful electronic musical instruments, patented in 1928 by French cellist, radio engineer and visionary Maurice Martenot (1898-1980). The most well-known iteration of the instrument is distinguished by three unique features: a laterally shifting keyboard (which permits vibrato), a ribbon control (which permits unlimited portamento), and special resonant speakers which imbue the sound with an otherworldly resonance. Charlie plays an Ondomo, a portable ondes Martenot which is one of only 100 handmade by the Asaden atelier of Japanese master craftsman Naoyuki Omo. The evocative tones of the instrument can be reminiscent of a violin, cello, flute, or even a human voice.