Lydia Kavina is a virtuoso theremin player, one of the few regularly appearing in concert internationally. The theremin was invented by her grandfather, Leon Theremin, who was also her first teacher. The instrument is unusual in that the player does not touch it during performance. It has an eerie sound often associated with science fiction and mystery films. Kavina's repertory includes several works appearing in film scores, including Miklós Rózsa's for Spellbound and Howard Shore's Ed Wood. But she plays many concert works, as well, including Martinu's Fantasie for Theremin, Oboe, Piano and Strings (1944); Isidor Achron's Improvisation, for piano and theremin (1945); and contemporary pieces such as Mixolydia (1995) by Jorge Antunes and Voice of Theremin (1996) by Vladimir Komarov. She also plays arrangements of well-known classical pieces by J.S. Bach, Saint-Säens, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Gershwin, and others. Kavina is a composer herself and has written a fair amount for her instrument, including her Theremin Concerto, subtitled "The Seasons of the Year" (1997), and Suite for Theremin and Piano (1989). Kavina has appeared on more than a dozen recordings, about half of which have been devoted strictly to theremin music. Her recordings are available on Mode Records, Teleura, Wergo, Hollywood Records, and Melodrama Records.
Lydia Kavina was born in Moscow on September 8, 1967. She began lessons on the theremin at nine years of age with her grandfather. She gave her concert debut on theremin at 14. Kavina later earned a degree in composition at the Moscow Conservatory.
After graduation and post-graduate work, Kavina launched her concert career. She also began teaching theremin and still regularly conducts workshops and master classes throughout Europe (Germany, Poland, Denmark, Holland, Finland, and England) and the U.S. (Asheville, NC).
From the 1990s Kavina has carried a fairly busy concert schedule and also made frequent radio and television appearances. Her first major media exposure came in May 1993 when she was a guest on Spinning on Air on WNYC in New York. She followed with many further high-profile appearances, including on BBC Radio 2 (1996), WGBH Boston (1997), and, for three consecutive years (1998-2000) on Moscow's NTV television network.
In 2004 Kavina appeared on the Roque Baños soundtrack for the film The Machinist. Her performances for the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen (2005) and Hamburg State Opera (2007) in the Lera Auerbach ballet The Little Mermaid were highly acclaimed.