Moogmentum Wows Attendees with Celebration of Music, History, Creativity and Innovation

On August 13 -15, 2019, the Bob Moog Foundation celebrated the grand opening of the Moogseum through Moogmentum, a series of musical and historical events reflecting on Bob Moog’s pioneering legacy in synthesis and his many inspirations. The celebration was held in four venues throughout downtown Asheville, North Carolina, and attracted a variety of domestic and international enthusiasts traveling from Canada, Argentina, and from New York to New Orleans to attend. 

Synthesis, professor, and researcher Ernesto Romeo traveled from Buenos Aires, Argentina to attend Moogmentum. He’s shown here with Michelle Moog-Koussa in the Moogseum.

Moogmentum brought together three legendary figures from the Moog legacy: Herb Deutsch, who collaborated with Bob on the first Moog Prototype; Patrick Moraz, keyboardist for Refugee, YES, and the Moody Blues; and Larry Fast, pioneering synthesist, technologist, and historian; as well as contemporary synthesist, Lisa Bella Donna. 

The beautiful theater at the Asheville Masonic Temple, just a half a block from the Moogseum, provided the setting for the Tuesday evening events. First, “In The Beginning With Herb Deutsch in Conversation with Larry Fast” explored Herb’s early days with Bob in the fall of 1963, and the winter and summer of 1964. With Larry’s careful guidance, Herb shared first-hand insights into the discussions and process that lead Bob and Herb to collaborate on what would become the Moog prototype.

Herb Deutsch in conversation with Larry Fast

Herb also shared segments from the 84-minute “Abominatron” Tape, a reel-to-reel tape in which Bob introduces Herb to every parameter of the new device.  Those segments included Bob’s insight into his decision make the instrument monophonic, and into his opportunity to present the invention at the Audio Engineering Society convention in the fall of 1964, which he found to be equal parts exciting and daunting. The conversation ended with Herb taking questions from the audience. 

After a quick intermission, which included guests sipping on a limited release of Moog Filtered Ale (created to benefit the Foundation by the Asheville Brewing Company), the audience reconvened to hear Patrick Moraz recount his “The Story of Bob and i, With Patrick Moraz in Coversation with Larry Fast.”

Patrick spoke enthusiastically with Larry about his long professional and personal relationship with Bob, including Bob’s stay in Switzerland with Patrick to help him program the then brand new Polymoog for us in his upcoming album, “The Story of i.”

He also addressed Bob’s deep contribution to the realm of sound, and how that changed the world of music.

Interspersed with his reflections, Patrick regaled the audience with performances on several synthesizers, including the Foundation’s vintage Minimoog, Minimoog Voyager, and Moog Subsequent 37, as well as a baby grand piano.

He took requests from attendees, and shared lively jokes and conversation with them. A consummate musician and showman, Patrick’s creative energy electrified the room, even at 75 years young. 

The evening concluded with Patrick and Larry taking questions from audience, and with Michelel Moog-Koussa, the Foundation’s executive director, thanking everyone for the contribution in making the evening an extraordinary experience for all involved. 

[All photos from Moogmentum Day One by Stephan Pruitt Photography for the Bob Moog Foundation.]

On Wednesday morning, Michelle lead an hour-long tour at the Moogseum for a large gathering of people who filled the space with intense interest. As she lead the group through all of the experiential exhibits, Michelle shared special insights into how the exhibits were created, the lengths taken to secure some of the rare instruments, and many stories about Bob’s life and work that can only be discovered at the Moogseum.  The attendees had the opportunity to ask many questions, and receive first-hand answers from a family member. 

Following the tour, Patrick Moraz and Larry Fast reconvened in the Moogseum space to share some of Patrick’s musical insights through “Modulations with Moogs and Moraz” with an intimate audience of 25 VIP ticket holders.

There he spoke with Larry about his professional and musical history, and his use of Moog synthesizers in his work. This historic conversation offered attendees the opportunity to sit mere feet away from Moraz and Fast as they explored music, innovation, and creativity. 

Ernesto Romero photographing Patrick Moraz and Dina Pearlman, daughter of famed synthesizer pioneer Alan R. Pearlman of ARP.

After a short break during which Patrick signed CDs of many of his 25 solo releases, the attendees gathered again in the gallery, this time in front of the re-creation of Bob’s workbench, to watch Herb Deutsch unveil the prototype of the Moog synthesizer, which is on loan to the Moogseum from The Henry Ford museum through May 23, 2020.

The audience sat in rapt attention as Herb lifted the cover from the case, and a powerful wave of nostalgia and affection came across his face. As one attendee reflected, it was the first time he got both tears and goosebumps. Another attendee shared that that moment was the most important moment in his life. 

Larry carefully lead Herb through a more detailed recounting of the creation of the prototype, including an explanation of all of the capabilities, and some of the other contributors to the device, including Gustav Ciamaga and Vladimir Ussachevsky. He also shared additional segments from the Abominatron tape, with Bob delving into the functionality. 

[All photos from Moogmentum Day Two by Stephen Pruitt Photography for the Bob Moog Foundation]

Thursday, August 15th, was the official grand opening day, made so specifically because it was also Leon Theremin’s 123rd birthday. The day began with Lisa Bells Donna leading a “Sonic Alchemy” workshop at the Asheville Music Hall where she featured a vintage Minimoog and a large board of Earth Quaker effect pedals. Lisa explained her technique of sound creation, took questions from the audience, and performed on her condensed setup. 

After a quick lunch break, Larry Fast stepped into his role as historian and technologist and delivered the Moogmentum keynote address on the evolution of electronic music, tracing over 100 years of development from analog to digital, giving several key insights based on his own experiences. 

Later that afternoon, the Asheville Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting at the Moogseum, with Michelle Moog-Koussa cutting the ribbon as people crowded the sidewalk to witness and support the momentous occasion.

Michelle welcomed the crowd, remarking that it was Bob’s sacrifices and dedication that inspired the eventual birth of the Moogseum, thanking everyone whose hard work contributed to the new space, and paying homage to Leon Theremin as Bob’s technical inspiration, and hence the inspiration for his career. The crowd was then welcomed into the gallery to experience the immersive exhibits. 

Vincent Pupillo, Sr., Founder and President of EMEAPP, at Moogmentum after the ribbon cutting.
Patrick and Larry with August Worley, technical advisor to the Bob Moog Foundation and part of the engineering team for the Minimoog Voyager.

As the sun set over Moogmentum, Lisa Bella Donna wowed the audience with her expansive setup of several Moog synthesizers, including a vintage Model D, Moog One, Matriarch, Mother-32s and more, with a vintage ARP 2600 perched on top. For the next two hours, she proceeded to combine a lush, sweeping sonic beds driven by a variety of sequences. 

Larry Fast, looking on as Lisa Bella Donna performs.

[All photos from Moogmentum Day Three by Tristan Whitney Weary for the Bob Moog Foundation]

Many thanks to everyone who attended Moogmentum, and to all of those who helped make it possible. Special thanks to Larry Fast, Patrick Moraz, Herb Deutsch, and Lisa Bella Donna for sharing your time and talents with us, and helping us create a truly extraordinary event. See you again next year!

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