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'Angels We Have Heard on High'

In concert Monday, Dec. 11, the Pequot Lakes bands at all grade levels presented "A Seasons Greetings!" delivering a colorful musical program crafted with honed instrumentation and orchestration, celebrating the advent of this year's winter holid...

Pequot Lakes band director Michael Sommerness describes a unique instrument called "theremin" used in the selection, "Dr. Who: Through Time and Space,” which the high school concert band performed Monday, Dec. 11, in the school auditorium.
Pequot Lakes band director Michael Sommerness describes a unique instrument called "theremin" used in the selection, "Dr. Who: Through Time and Space,” which the high school concert band performed Monday, Dec. 11, in the school auditorium. Steven Olson / Baxter

In concert Monday, Dec. 11, the Pequot Lakes bands at all grade levels presented "A Seasons Greetings!" delivering a colorful musical program crafted with honed instrumentation and orchestration, celebrating the advent of this year's winter holiday season.

With a flair for novelty in reaching out from traditional holiday music, bands director Michael Sommerness introduced at least one literally far out selection, "Dr. Who: Through Time and Space," an incidental composition from the longstanding popular British television programme, performed by the high school concert band.

Sommerness described, and pantomimed in detail, operation of the "Through Time and Space" selection's most unique instrument - a modernized, amplified iPad-version of the "theremin", or "echophone", invented in the 1920s and, technically, the world's first electronic musical synthesizer.

Played without any physical contact by the musician, who back in the day was called a "thereminist," the pitch and volume of the ethereal, almost angelic-sounding high notes are controlled by airborne hand motions alone.

Historically embedded in both vintage and modern movie soundtracks, this special instrument's mellow, pure sound gives a soulful nod to the timeless Christmas message of "Peace on Earth," and, perhaps, on other worlds as well.

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