Cal Poly plays host to curious musical talent show by Australian troupe

An Australian theatrical performance troupe hosted a theremin competition Wednesday at Cal Poly, challenging contestants to play an electronic instrument many had never seen or heard before.

“It’s an instrument you play without touching,” said Deep Blue musician Greta Kelly, who helped oversee the talent show. “The right hand controls the pitch and the left hand controls the volume.”

The instrument, which was invented by Russian mathematician Leon Theremin in 1920, produces space-age synthesized music that first gained prominence in the soundtrack of the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” film.

More than 80 people attended the event, and performances were judged on creativity, dynamics and theatricality. All of the competitors were “winners,” Kelly said after the two-hour competition.

Deep Blue, which performs a repertoire that includes pop tunes and rock classics adapted for violins, violas, cellos (as well as guitars and percussion), is also on campus to hold auditions and interviews for Deep Blue USA.

“The audition is open to any instrumentalist — amateurs and professionals,” Kelly said. “We’re going to have quite a bit of technology for them.”

The auditions will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Performing Arts Center Pavilion. Hopeful candidates should complete an online registration form at