The BCM&FF was made possible by grants from the Houston Arts Alliance.

Leon Theremin

Thomas Grillo, theremin performer

Thomas Grillo

join us for the opening night of the Bayou City Music & Film Festival
this year we are honoring the THEREMIN
join us afterwards for a Q & A with director STEVE MARTIN
followed by a live performance with theremin virtuoso THOMAS GRILLO
This festival was made possible by grants from the Houston Arts Alliance
THEREMIN: AN ELECTRONIC ODYSSEY: Very few people would recognize the name of Leon Theremin (1896-1993) if it weren't for the electronic musical instrument he invented around 1918. Fans of the first Star Trek series will recognize its sounds, but it was used in orchestral compositions and movies quite extensively for many decades, and even played a role in the Brian Wilson's composition of the Beach Boys' hit Good Vibrations. However, this documentary shows that the inventor of the forerunner instrument in electronic music is a person whose life had a lot more to offer than that. He was called "the Soviet Edison," and was honored by Lenin before he went to work in the United States, where he developed the first electronic security system in the world for Sing-Sing Prison in upstate New York. He also was a pioneer in interracial relations, braving the strong disapproval of his peers to marry a black ballerina. He was kidnapped from the U.S. in 1938 on the orders of the vengeful and ever-paranoid Stalin, brought back to the U.S.S.R., charged with treason, and was sentenced to a gulag (forced-labor camp). However, when World War II rolled around, he was brought back into the mainstream and was put to work for the KGB, for whom he invented the first electronic "bug" for eavesdropping, for which he earned the Stalin Prize.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Steven M. Martin is an actor and filmmaker, who wrote and directed Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, which earned him a Filmmakers Trophy at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival.

ABOUT THOMAS GRILLO: Grillo always had a passion for music and started playing the violin at age 8 and the flute at 12.  In the late 70s, Grillo performed with the Biloxi Opera Theater untill the early 80s.  He is a self taught thereminist who enjoys playing the theremin in a classical style, but also enjoys other genres. He started playing the theremin in July of 2006.

This festival was made possible by grants from the Houston Arts Alliance.