“The Theremin was a ”vital cornerstone of our contemporary music technology”. – Robert Moog
Russia has been at the forefront of electronic music since the very beginning, and synthesisers were developed and widely used in the former Soviet Union – both officially and underground. Ninety years ago, a young Russian scientist and inventor, Leon Theremin, was summoned to the Kremlin for a meeting with Lenin. This was the start of an incredible journey that laid the foundations for modern electronic music. In 1972, Eduard Artemiev, one of first electronic music composers in the Soviet Union, created a remarkable score for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris which ultimately proved as influential as the film itself. It was composed using the massive photoelectron ANS synthesiser, created by Russian engineer Yevgeny Murzin in 1952.
Since then things have changed dramatically. When it comes to burgeoning electronic music scenes, Moscow isn’t usually one of the first cities that springs to mind, but Synthposium is on a mission to change that. Synthposium is an annual Moscow-based festival exploring a new interdisciplinary culture formed at the junction of electronic music and technology.
For the last three years, Synthposium has united and inspired professional producers and musicians, fans of analogue and modular synthesisers, engineers and experts on musical instruments. Today the festival’s reach goes beyond a narrowly specialised community to become a major urban event set to provide a unique interactive platform for demonstrating new thought in engineering, digital design, business projects and the results of creative inquiry across different areas. The aftermath of previous editions of the project has seen growing audience interest and the potential for the local market to become, in the near future, one of the most creative and fast-paced in the world.
This year the extended four-day format for Synthposium will include an exhibition of achievements in music technology and an educational programme dedicated to lectures, public talks and workshops led by international and local experts and engineers including BBC broadcaster Matthew Sweet and synth enthusiast Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe aka Lichens. Following the tradition of Russian engineering innovations in music, Synthposium will hold an offline premiere of Deckard’s Dream, designed by Russian engineer Roman Filippov (Sputnik Modular). The 8-voice polyphonic analogue synthesiser is inspired by a certain sound in late 1970s and early 1980s cinema, most recognisable in Vangelis’s score for Blade Runner.
A parallel awards ceremony will take place for the first time at Synthposium, awarding prizes to the best engineering, the best interface designs and concepts, and artists with the most technologically advanced live shows – all for the first time in Russia. The festival will also host interactive installations and audiovisual performances. An evening programme will include three afterparties at popular clubbing venues in Moscow, with international artists and famous local musicians among the headliners – get ready for shoegaze disciple Ulrich Schnauss and German techno legend Thomas P. Heckmann.
The Synthposium team will showcase a collaboration of Russian music industry activists initiated by the Main In Main communications agency. The event will be held at the Winzavod Center of Contemporary Arts, Moscow, 24–27 August.
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