Thu Aug 7 2008
Photograph: Frank HIllinger
When the curators at MoMA decided to put together a concert series to complement their current exhibit “Dalí: Painting and Film,” they couldn’t have found a more appropriate musician to include than Pamelia Kurstin. The former New Yorker’s music often sounds like shape-shifting Surrealist landscapes, the kind with melted clocks and a Sphinx that proudly wears Shirley Temple’s head.
Kurstin plays the theremin, named for its Russian inventor in 1919 and the first ever electronic instrument. Scoffed at by classical-music fans, it was relegated to providing sound effects for space aliens in 1950s sci-fi movies. Kurstin has helped shepherd the theremin into the 21st century, using it to create eerie, ethereal electronica—that is, when she isn’t playing Pachelbel’s “Canon” or tearing up the basslines of jazz standards.Identified on her homespun website as a “roller-skating-bird-punching-hair-cutting thereminist,” the Vienna-residing Kurstin will show herself to be something of a multitalented eccentric on this set of local gigs as well. Playing solo at MoMA and Barbès, she will join improvisers Ingrid Laubrock, Dalit Warshaw and Danny Tunick at the Stone, and then reunite with her postcabaret, punk-chamber ensemble, Barbez, at (Le) Poisson Rouge. So much for the laughable request on her gig page—it encourages phone calls “to find out if my career is over” if no new shows have been posted.