This year’s Malta International Arts Festival hosts theremin and voice artist Carolina Eyck, who will be giving a solo performance using a ground-breaking surround sound system that allows this unique instrument to break free and fill the entire performance area.
The theremin is notable for being probably the only musical instrument that is played without any physical contact. The somewhat eerie music is produced via two metal antennas, one controlling volume and the other the frequency of the sound. The music is controlled by the positioning of the hands of the musicians, which is accurately sensed by the antenna, translated to electronic signals and amplified by a loudspeaker.
The instrument is still relatively unknown and is often featured on YouTube video playlists of Weird Musical instruments, but musicians like Eyck have popularised it and rendered it more accessible to a mainstream audience.
“The music of my new album, Thetis 2086, is all about changing our perspective,” the artist says. And, indeed, the audience’s perspective about this strange and wonderful instrument will undoubtedly be challenged as magical loops and artfully arranged layers of voice are generated live on stage, flying through the room in sync with Eyck’s dance-like performance.
Eyck explains how, as she sings without lyrics, her voice and the theremin form the perfect symbiosis. Indistinguishable at times, with the theremin sounding almost human. Balancing between minimal and progressive electronic music, Carolina’s melodic and partly fixed composition style leaves plenty of space for her virtuoso improvisations.
“As humans we are often stuck thinking only about our own day-to-day existence—it is hard to break free of that narrowness of thought, the tendency to focus on ourselves only, the things going on in our immediate surroundings. We often struggle to see with an open and clear mind,” Eyck says, adding that her work is designed to break free from these self-made boundaries.
In an age when so much of our time is spent dealing with worlds contained within increasingly small computers, Eyck believes that our minds may be in danger of shrinking to fit the small spaces.
“In life I make it a point to try to look at things from above, if I’m searching for a solution to a problem or trying to spark inspiration for a new project. I once climbed a pyramid in Guatemala and, when I reached the top, around me there was nothing but sky and the green jungle below… it was the freest I’ve ever felt,” she reminisces.
This is a feeling that she strives to recreate with her performance, inspiring the mind to break free from the smaller, daily perspectives.
“Ultimately, changing the size of our perspectives means to open up our minds and see through eyes that aren’t our own. This allows us to feel empathy with those not directly connected to us, and to the world as a whole, which is what we need most today. This is what Thetis 2086 is all about,” she concludes.
Carolina Eyck performs on June 22 and 24 at 9pm at the Valletta Campus Theatre in Valletta. For more news about the Malta International Arts Festival 2022, check out other performances like RootlessRoot’s Stones and Bones. Book your tickets now directly from www.festivals.mt/miaf.