We continue a series of interviews with the finalists of THEREMIN STAR – the international theremin video competition dedicated to the centenary of theremin. Today we bring to your attention an interview with a theremin performer from Italy – LINA GERVASI
Masha Theremin: Lina, thank you very much for the opportunity of the interview with you for Theremin Today. We all really appreciate your participation in Theremin Star competition and everyone was very disappointed when Theremin Star was forced to move your video from the race in the end of the final voting. So, about this and many other things that really inspire you, I would like to talk with you today.
What is the music for you? How did it happen that music became your profession? In what moment you for the first time felt that you are very talented person?
Lina Gervasi: Music has always been part of my life, since I was child.
My very first musical experience dates back to the 90s with the participation in the selections of the Zecchino d’Oro (an italian national singing context, for children). I was very young but I still remember the joy of performing in public and the sweetness of Cino Tortorella dressed as Mago Zurlì (the TV presenter).
Before knowing and approaching the beauty of the Theremin music, I grow up through a solid path of musical training. I graduated in transverse flute under the guidance of Maestro Salvatore Vella (First Flute of the Bellini Theatre in Catania) and subsequently I got qualified to become a flute teacher.
I won numerous national and international competitions and I had an intense solo, chamber and orchestral concert activity. Over the years I have attended courses and masterclasses of high artistic improvement and courses on musical propaedeutics and musical informatics.
Since 2011 I have been a state teacher of transverse flute at Comprehensive Institutes with a musical orientation and currently I teach at the San Francesco Comprehensive Institute, in Gela (CL).
Masha Theremin : l know that the part of your time you devote to the work with the children. Would you, please, tell us about this. What is the age range of your students?
Lina Gervasi: Since 2011 I am a state teacher of transverse flute at Comprehensive Institutes specializing in music and work with children aged between 11 and 14 years.
I think my role is a job of great importance because we have to strengthen up the future of these kids by collaborating together with other teachers. The purpose of a good education on sound, music and art in general in school is to improve the different perceptive, productive and interpretative skills, by always keeping in mind that we are working with this kids not to create professionals, but single individuals capable of understanding the world around them.
Music has a very strong motivating power: I believe that its strength consists in being able to totally involve the pupils, by becoming a formidable “tool” in order to be able to achieve various objectives, not only the musical ones but also and above all the educational ones.
Today awareness of how important it is to pay attention to the psyche, which in this case we could also call the “soul” of the learning boy. Teachers must help him grow harmoniously, as a significantly increasing process. Experiences, observations and verifications have highlighted how artistic-expressive-musical activities are an excellent way to overcome and / or improve children’s linguistic and relational difficulties.
Educating in musical and artistic language means satisfying a need of man, satisfying a common need, equal for everyone at all latitudes, universal as language is and like its message of sociability.
Moreover, the cause of the vocal, expressive, rhythmic and motor incapacities that are often found in many adults must also be found in the insufficient musical and visual education received during childhood.
Masha Theremin: You began to work with theremin relatively recently. Were your first steps with theremin difficult?
Lina Gervasi: Few years ago I discovered that I suffer from a strong nickel allergy which, if not under such a given treatment, it does not allow me to stay in close contact and freely play my instrument, the transverse flute.
I didn’t want to eliminate music from my life and so I had to find a way to continue transmitting my emotions through music anyway.
Theremin saved me by offering me the opportunity to get back into the game.
About three years ago I purchased a theremin and immediately I started to search and read up stuff on it and started work on the practice of this instrument as well. I am very grateful to the one who gave me the determination to start theremin’s studies, Fabio Pesce, Italian thereminist. After this, since there are no theremin schools in Italy, I decided to meet great exponents of theremin such as Lydia Kavina, Carolina Eyck and Ernesto Mendoza.
The approach with the theremin was not very simple at all, as is the in-depth pro study of every musical instrument, but despite this I have dedicated and continue to devote many hours to studying theremin to reach my current level.
Masha Theremin:What do you think about the theremin? Is it an unusual musical instrument or it is ordinary musical instrument with the unusual way of controlling?
Lina Gervasi: The theremin is a truly fascinating instrument because music is designed by the movement of both hands in the air, inside a magnetic field radiated by two antennas that communicate with each other. I think it is wonderful to be able to convert into music, thanks to the movement of the hands, what your mind thinks and your heart sings.
I hope that many people can approach the music and the study of theremin, because it is really useful for the development of our musical ear.
The theremin is an instrument very sensitive to small displacements not only physically but also dictated by feelings and moods: Sounds are the reflection of what our body expresses.
Masha Theremin: Would you, please, share with us your impressions of participating in Italia’s Got Talent and also it is very inteesting to know about your recent projects
Lina Gervasi: Between 2018 and 2019 I’ve been on the stage of Italia’s Got Talent, as thereminist and I got all 4 “yes” from the judges Mara Maionchi, Claudio Bisio, Frank Matano and Federica Pellegrini. It was an exceptional and crazy experience and I was very excited because I played for the first time, after one year of study only, in front of the wonderful audience of the Teatro degli Arcimboldi in Milan and on national television.
In 2019 I recorded the EP “Ode to the Moon” together with “Gli Ottoni del Mediterraneo”. “Gli Ottoni del Mediterraneo” is a brass group made up of musicians who collaborate with the best Italian theatres such as San Carlo Theater in Naples, Florence Opera House, La Scala Theater in Milan, La Fenice Theater in Venice, Turin Royal Theater, etc.: what came out from this collaboration was something never seen before in the music scene, where the timbre quality of the Theremin amalgamates its self perfectly with the brass group sounds.
I also collaborate with Mario Incudine, a multifaceted artist and author among the most representative of italian World Music and with Maestro Angelo Privitera, historical collaborator and musician of the famous Italian singer-songwriter Franco Battiato.
I played, as a flutist and thereminist, in two of the records produced and arranged by Denis Marino: “La Piramide”, by Luca Madonia, the last duets record of the Italian singer-songwriter with Enrico Ruggeri, Franco Battiato, Morgan, Carmen Consoli, Mario Venuti , Patrizia Laquidara, Mauro Ermanno Giovanardi, Giada Colagrande and Brando Madonia; “Homaj” another album of italian and international duets by the sicilian singer-songwriter Daniele Guastella with numerous guests like: Luca Madonia (Italy), Rodrigo Rojas (Bolivia), Alen Veziko (Estonia), Ahmed Elgeretli (Egypt), Anita Vitale (Italy) , Mario Incudine (Italy), Haydee Milanes (Cuba), Jerusa Barros (Cape Verde), Leonel Capitano (Argentina), Le Voskresenie (Russia), Dulce Lopez (Mexico), Leonel Soto (Mexico), Mihaela Fileva (Bulgaria), Giovanna D’angi (Italy), Lidia Isac (Moldova), Bernardo Quesada (Costa Rica), Pauly Zarb (Australia), Abigail (Spain) and Edgar Oceransky (Mexico).
The end of 2019 is marked by a beautiful surprise: a recording production contract with the record label Musica Lavica Records. With the same Label and under the artistic production of Denis Marino again, several singles have already been released (which you can find on Spotify and on all digital stores) and I am currently working on my first solo album.
On December 2019 we produced a Christmas video clip, born from the collaboration with the actor Filippo Velardi, with the aim of spreading the same message to everyone: – Solitude is a message of Love -. In this video, I played a rearranged version of the White Christmas theme as a thereminist and flutist.
Another single, Schindler’s List Theme (by John Williams) was released on the Day of Memory – January 27. The video was sponsored by important national bodies: Ferruccio Parri National Institute, SIEDAS, MEI, Garibaldi Theater of Avola (SR) and Municipality of Avola.
I consider myself very lucky for the professionalism and the high artistic-musical quality of my record label Musica Lavica Records. They’re a big family: my producer Denis Marino, the lawyer Claudia Barcellona, legal consultant of the label, and the sound engineer Michele Musarra. They constantly work hardly on every musical project, taking care of every single detail that can always make the difference, creating an excellent synergy with the artists in order to achieve the same goal together.
During this quarantine period, we all were forced to stay at home in order to win this battle against COVID-19, but the Music did not stop at all and as a Musica Lavica’s artist I was engaged in various national initiatives including: “l’Italia in una stanza” (OASport, OAPlus, MEIWeb and MEI – Meeting of the Independent Labels), “Stop – PlayArt” (Angelo Bonello and Francesca Formisano), “Il mio presente per il nostro futuro” (Equilibri, tutti siamo diversi – Musica Lavica Records), “Concertone in Montesole” for the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Italy together with Resistant Material 2.0 (the Ferruccio Parri Institute, Siedas – Italian Society of Experts in the Arts and Entertainment Law, Mei), Web Live “Casa Marcello” (Marcello Cirillo),”Costruire Fiducia – Musica “(Ambra Scamarda, Matteo Amantia, Andrea Bartoli and Farm Cultural Park).
Also during this period, I recorded Theremin reinterpreted versions of: “Che vita meravigliosa” – by Diodato, “Love Theme” from Cinema Paradiso original soundtrack by E. Morricone, “Il Mare calmo della sera” like duet with Gabriele Cirilli.
Masha Theremin:Was it important for you to participate in Theremin Star competition? How did you assess your chances to win?
Lina Gervasi: Theremin Star is an international competition for thereminists only so it was very important for me to have had the opportunity to compare myself with other thereminists from all around the World and above all to be able to discover and appreciate their way of playing Theremin. Many good thereminists took part in this the competition, so it was quite impossible to be able to make certain predictions about the final outcome.
Masha Theremin: How do you assess the situation that happened with you during the final voting of Theremin Star? (I want to remind to our readers that in the last three days of final voting were recieved about 500 illegal voices for Lina, this voices were remove by administration of competition, but after this the attack with illegal voices for Lina continued in a slightly modified pattern. As the result, this deprived Lina the chance to win, because she could not correctly assess her current voting result, so she not applied in time for additional support in different internet communities. This situation not only deprived Lina of the chance to win, but also create nervous atmosphere among the active finalists of Theremin Star.)
Lina, what do you think, who could wish your victory so much that was ready to use illegal methods for your winning? Do you think it could be someone from your students or fans?
Lina Gervasi: As already said, for me Theremin Star was a great opportunity to let everyone know about the beauty of Theremin and the different ways of playing it, including mine. I am very sorry that I did not have the pleasure to reach the very end of this contest.
To answer your question: I can tell you that I don’t know who wants my victory so much this way or, I would rather say, who wants my elimination, musically speaking, by leading me to exclusion from the contest in a somewhat subtle way. Surely I can tell you that few weeks after the Theremin Stars final the attacks against me continued: my Facebook profile was badly hacked and once again I suffered a public damage to my artist profile. In both cases, my Label reported all the matter to the postal police office.
Masha Theremin: Are you ready to public appeal to the unknown person, who did all this manipulations with voices for you during the final voting? What you would like to say to this unknown person?
Lina Gervasi: I hope I will no longer receive attacks like these because, as mentioned above, the only real result has been to harm my person. But I feel safe and secure anyway, because there are more and more people following me, appreciating my music in a clean and sincere way. They love me and remained close to me by supporting me even in those unpleasant moments. Nevertheless, I feel protected because I am full legally represented by my Label’s legal team.
Masha Theremin: Do you want Theremin Star to organize for you individual ten – marathon of voting for opportunity to receive clear and honest result or you are ready to forget about this incident and leave every thing as it is already have happened?
Lina Gervasi: Unfortunately, these attacks deeply annoy those who suffer them, but they can happen and the Theremin Star Organization has always been attentive, polite and available to all the participants, including me. Personally, I prefer to let it go and forget these whole things soon, but I’m sure there will be other important opportunities to make good Music together.
Masha Theremin: Lina, my last question. Who is Duke? And what feeling you have about him?
Lina Gervasi: Duke is my dog, or rather I would say he is my best friend and I can’t imagine my life without him too.
Duke is an Amstaff and so he’s a strong dog, with a powerful and courageous appearance but despite this he is a puppy with a tender heart. Every day, in the morning, he wakes me up and in the evening he waits me till I returning back home, wagging his tail continuously. He loves running, swimming, playing especially with children and listening to a lot of good music by my side. I really love him!
Masha Theremin: The theremin was born in the harsh climate of the beautiful and mystical St. Petersburg, but I still have the feeling that the theremin is a very Italian instrument, that its essence, powdered with the refined coldness of the north, is very organic to the Italian expressiveness and temperament.
It would be wrong to say that Lina has a special passion for the theremin, because, as it seemed to me, Lina puts a lot ofpassion in everything she does – whether it be classes with her young students, playing with her beloved dog, or the music to which Lina dedicated all her life.
Theremin requires great love, sensitivity, constant attention and development. And I’m really glad that Lina’s theremin is in good hands.