News and Thoughts from
Rob Schwimmer
Monday June 1, 2015 - 12:06 am
Reexamining "Beyond The Sky" for Piano and Theremin
When Beyond The Sky was released it was reviewed in both the jazz and classical worlds. Gramophone said, "Extraordinary...harmonically ravishing... a most stimulating release that stays fresh after countless rehearings"  while All About Jazz--NY (now The Jazz Record) stated "Shaping up to be the finest solo piano CD of the year." 

There will be other pieces (both piano and theremin) announced from the stage before and after the continuous performance of Beyond The Sky at Bargemusic onWednesday, June 24th, 2015.

BEYOND THE SKY (played without pause)
    Hello Again (pt.I)
    Waltz For Clara (piano solo)
    Hello Again (pt.II)
Two Songs Without Words
    I Would Talk With My Dad
    Holding You In My Arms
Four Miniatures
    Repeated Notes
    Beyond The Sky
Two Hallucinations On Popular Songs
    Buddy Can You Spare A Dime
    Never Never Land
Three Tone Poems
    Double Helix
    Waltz For Clara (for theremin & piano)
Two Hallucinations On Popular Songs
    All The Things You Are
    Stormy Weather
Tuesday August 25, 2009 - 7:08 pm
Alien Trespass
Alien Trespass is now available on DVD.
Thursday April 2, 2009 - 2:04 pm
Alien Trespass
Rob Schwimmer played theremin on the sci fi movie Alien Trespass, out on Friday 4/3/09
Thursday December 20, 2007 - 4:12 pm
by Rob Schwimmer

Have you ever wondered in the middle of a dream if you were dreaming? Probably most if not all of us have. Sometimes. while having come to that conclusion, I seem to have control over what goes on in the dream. Inevitably, though, as things progress I lose that control and am yanked through the craziest of somewhat interrelated scenarios (plot-wise) and sometimes nothing more predictable than a sudden asteroid crashing through the ceiling of your house. (Yeah, I know an asteroid is larger than that...)

This is called a lucid dream, "a dream in which the person is aware that he or she is dreaming while the dream is in progress. During lucid dreams, it is possible to exert conscious control over the dream characters and environment, as well as to perform otherwise physically impossible feats. Lucid dreams are known to be extremely real and vivid. A lucid dream can begin in one of two ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes that he or she is dreaming, or a wake-initiated lucid dream occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness. A pre-lucid dream is one in which the dreamer considers the question, "Am I asleep and dreaming?" He or she may or may not come to the correct conclusion. It is possible to be lucid and have little control over dream content, and conversely, to have a great deal of control without being explicitly aware that you are dreaming."

When I started working on this piece I thought about Godowsky's musical travelogues for piano which he called "Phonoramas". (He did one series only called the Java Suite in 1925.) I loved the word Phonoramas--It reminded me of my 3D'ish Stereoscope when I was a kid. My family had lots of travel pictures that were sold by the company that made the viewer. This cultivated a hunger in me for "strange and exotic places". The thought of getting into a plane (a car can work too but you have to fall asleep so you lose the connective tissue making for far more dramatic exit) and waking up in a different world fascinated me. (I've also always loved the juxtaposition of different styles of music in closer proximity than they "should" be...a pattern emerges...) From the mountains to the prairies, (deserts to glaciers, from the jungle) to the ocean (white with foam), etc. in hard cuts or smooth transition--Sounds like a great and fairly all-encompassing framework...

No, I want more! It occurred to me I might be limiting myself to a certain set of geographical scenarios without taking into account the viewer (in this case me) or the way the viewer happens to be tilted internally at the time. What about the viewer's relationships with friends, lovers, family, acquaintances, enemies, waiters? With his/her own thoughts?  The lucid dream idea came to me in a dream (now I'm just lying)...Actually the word "Pellucid" came up in a crossword puzzle. One definition is:

"translucently clear":
(of music or other sound) clear and pure in tone : a smooth legato and pellucid singing tone are his calling cards.

Well, that could describe the theremin, couldn't it? Given my penchant for unrepentant (those who know me well might uncharitably describe this as "unrelenting") and gleeful word-mangling, what a nice referential and inspiring frame "Pellucid Dream(s)" might make for this piece! Editor's note: I put the "(s)" in the title as a descriptive symptom of not really knowing if it's more than one dream.

As in lucid dreams where you're sometimes driving the car and sometimes it's driving you, I wanted some of the theremin requirements to be fairly wide: Some sections are long and lyrical and totally under control while some are actually physically impossible to play. (Isn't that one of the things that a person wants? To be able to control his/her environment? Then there's those damn asteroids again that just fall out of space whenever the hell they  like...) Geographical vapors: Lofoten Islands, Olympic rainforest, Bruges, Tokyo, Paris, Bryce Canyon, Maui, Newfoundland, snorkeling a coral reef, etc.  Musical crossroads: abrupt changes in the music, sometimes organic transformations: Personal challenges: taking charge, losing charge, attempting to regain control, giving up control entirely: Personal interactions: all the people you know, the serious, the comic, the smart, dumb, boring, compelling, the silly, the erudite... Personal regrets: I could have used all three of my theremins and called it "Thereminage a Trois" no matter what the music was. Musical plan and choices: While most is written, there is opportunity for improvisation...However, where I decide to abandon the written and turn to improv will be dependent on the moment (how brave I'm feeling, how well I'm playing) so, in a sense, that will also be a lucid dream reference as to when I'm slipping from the written (awake) into the improv (dreamingggg)...

Epilogue: Planning ahead but watching the rear view mirror: to create a cohesive structure, meanwhile responding to the unexpected in the form of one's own limitations as well as choices made on the way,  then checking backwards so the modifications to one's grand plan (going forwards) is at least moderately convincing in retrospect...

PS--I'd like to thank Suzanne Fiol and The Issue Project Room

Saturday April 21, 2007 - 6:04 pm
More Praise for Beyond the Sky
"Beyond the Sky, a collection of short pieces and miniature suites, offers a tour of Mr. Schwimmer's musical house, moving from room to room without much concern about whether the material at hand
is classical or jazz, improvised or carefully plotted."
[more >>] — Allan Kozinn (The New York Times)

"Brainy and dreamy" — Charlene Baldridge (San Diego News )
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