Charlie Draper plays theremin and ondes Martenot, two early electronic musical instruments distinguished by their uniquely expressive control mechanisms and otherworldly tones. These instruments are ideal partners: besides being among the earliest electronic musical instruments, both demand comparably keen attention to pitch, and are capable of similarly limitless gradations of tone, volume, and expression.
Based near London, Charlie is one of few musicians worldwide to have devoted himself to these instruments. Since beginning to play the theremin in 2005, Charlie's performances have taken him to venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, Oslo’s Opera House, New York’s Public Theatre, the Tate Britain, the British Library, Glastonbury Festival, the Wales Millennium Centre, the London ExCeL, and Cambridge’s West Road Concert Hall. 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. Services offered include: bespoke performance (with tape, piano, harp, ensemble or orchestra); bespoke recording (remotely or in-person; via improvisation, reference stems, notation or any combination of the above); tuition (private lessons, lectures, demonstrations and workshops for schools, colleges, and universities); music services (composition, transcription and score preparation) and consultation (historical and musical on the theremin, ondes Martenot, and early electronic music).
For bookings and general inquiries, get in touch using the contact form.
For news of upcoming performances, visit the events page, or subscribe to social media.
The theremin is a monophonic space-controlled electronic musical instrument, invented in 1920 by the Russian physicist and musician Leon Theremin (1896-1993). The instrument is distinguished both by its haunting tone which recalls a stringed instrument or human voice, and by its unique mode of operation, which involves no physical contact from the player.
Charlie has been playing theremin since 2005 and has performed many principal works for theremin and orchestra including Schillinger’s “First Airphonic Suite”, Rószsa’s “Spellbound Concerto”, Elfman’s “Mars Attacks!” and Herrmann’s Suite from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. The instrument has taken him to venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, Oslo’s Opera House, New York’s Public Theatre and Dublin’s National Concert Hall.
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.The evocative tones of the instrument can be reminiscent of a violin, cello, flute, or even a human voice.
Charlie began playing the ondes Martenot in 2018, and has since worked to build a core repertoire of chamber and orchestral music. The ondes represents a natural transition from the theremin, owing to its similar mechanism of control (which assigns volume and pitch to the left and right hands), and its comparable ability to produce limitless glissando. Charlie has performed for film score recordings, for orchestras and bands, provided remote recording services, and performed regularly as a soloist with pianist Paul Jackson. Charlie plays two instruments: an Ondomo, manufactured by Naoyuki Omo in Japan, and an Ondéa manufactured by David Kean in Canada.
Theremin and ORCHESTRA
Lera Auerbach Icarus (2006 / 2011)
Danny Elfman Mars Attacks! - Main Title and Introduction (1996)
Reinhold Gliere Concerto for Coloratura Soprano (1943) †
Bernard Herrmann The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Olivier Messiaen Turangalîla-Symphonie (VI.) (1948) †
Jim Parker Midsomer Murders (1997)
Sergei Rachmaninov Vocalise (1912) †
Harry Revel Music out of the Moon (1947)
Miklós Rósza Spellbound Concerto (1945)
Miklós Rósza The Lost Weekend (1945)
Camille Saint-Saens Le Cygne (1886) †
Joseph Schillinger First Airphonic Suite (1929)
Alfred Schnittke Nagasaki Oratorium (1958)
Howard Shore Ed Wood Suite (1994)
Theremin and PIANO
Isidor Achron Improvisation (1945)
Joseph Achron Hebrew Melody (1911) †
Thierry Besancon Nocturne (2008)
Gabriel Fauré Après un rêve (1878) †
Reinhold Gliere Concerto for Coloratura Soprano: I. Andante (1943) †
George Gershwin Summertime (1934) †
Nikolai Medtner Suite-Vocalise (1931) †
Alex Palmer Sonata-Fantasy (2012)
Sergei Rachmaninov Vocalise (1915) †
Sergei Rachmaninov Ne Poy Krasavita, “The Song of Grusia” (1893) †
Miklós Rósza Spellbound Concerto (1945)
Camille Saint-Saëns The Swan (1886) †
Joseph Schillinger Melody (1929)
Joseph Schillinger Vocalise No.1 (1928)
Riccardo Valente Complaint (1934)
Friedrich Wilckens Dance in the Moon (1933)
Works for Multiple Theremins
Percy Grainger Free Music No.1 (1937)
Percy Grainger Free Music No.2 (1937)
Percy Grainger Beat-less Music (1937)
Nicolas Slonimsky Dream Scents (1934)
Ondes Martenot and PIANO
Richard Rodney Bennett Nocturne No. 2 (1984)
Olivier Messiaen Feuillet Inédit I. Presque lent et berceur (op. post)
Olivier Messiaen Feuillet Inédit II. Lent (op. post)
Olivier Messiaen Feuillet Inédit III. Bien modéré (op. post)
Olivier Messiaen Feuillet Inédit IV. Lent - un peu plus vif (op. post)
Olivier Messiaen Oraison, extract from “Fête des belles eaux, IV. L’Eau” (1936)
Darius Milhaud Suite pour ondes Martenot et piano (1932)
Edward Michael Élégie (1961)
Pierre Vellones Fantaisie (1930)
Pierre Vellones Deux Pieces pour Columbia (1935)
† = arrangement / transcription.