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Wait a minute – there’s a handmade theremin at Orlando Mini Maker Faire?

September 27, 2013

One of the most curious and intriguing instruments I’ve encountered is the theremin, an electronic instrument most of us probably recognize from Led Zeppelin, but that I first experienced in person at a show in Gainesville featuring area band Morningbell. The curious way the instrument is played forced me to lean forward and compelled me to discover this 1994 documentary, Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, which is one of the few films I still own on VHS because I just can’t part with the magic of it. Here’s the trailer, in case you’ve never seen it:

In the documentary, Lydia Kavina, great niece of the theremin’s inventor Leon Theremin, performs the instrument so exquisitely that I have no qualms about using the word “mesmerizing” to describe it.

And this is the basis for the heart-pounding excitement I experienced when I was perusing Orlando Mini Maker Faire’s list of makers for this year’s event (which takes place Saturday, Oct. 5 at Orlando Science Center) and saw this entry for Philip Neidlinger, who performs a traditional hand-built vacuum tube theremin that he built himself and has named, “Gabriella.” It seems his instrument, which has performed at Moog Music’ Etherfest, is signed by Kavina, which is as significant a stamp of approval as one could hope for.

I could burst at just the thought of examining this instrument, and it is exactly why I was so fascinated by Mini Maker Faire when it cropped up in the event calendars last year. (I wrote a cover story on the event, if you wanna time travel with me. P.S. This year, there is a time travel simulator at the faire. Seriously.) Neidlinger is one of many awesome makers featured at this year’s showcase. Here’s a list of all the makers, and here’s a gallery of others I can’t wait to meet:

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  • Philip Neidlinger

    Hi guys. Looking forward to attending the Faire. One minor point: the theremin was named “Gabriella” by my bride Dr. Sheri Neidlinger. Gabriella is a fairie who sings to a man with a wounded soul in the movie (not play) “Rigoletto” in order to help him recover.

  • Ashley at Orlando Weekly


    I’m sorry for the confusion! I omitted the incorrect information and am delighted by the real story behind the name. I hope to see you at the Faire!

  • Philip Neidlinger

    The faire was fantastic. At least 200 kids got to play with Gabs!