OKC Philharmonic’s Marat Gabdullin invents a new hybrid violin

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From inventing a new type of hybrid electric violin to adapting to concerts at a social distance to remote recording of an original work with a global ensemble and obtaining its green card after a strange confusion, Marat Gabdullin has certainly remained busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a weird year actually. It’s amazing; at least to me, I feel like it went by so fast. And now you look back and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we did this “Covid Romance” “and you fancy it was late last week, but that was a year ago,” Gabdullin said.

A violinist for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, he will close his strangely productive pandemic year by performing as a featured soloist in the orchestra’s 2020-21 Classics season finale at 8 p.m. Saturday at Civic Center Music Hall.

“Considering we’re part of the 23% of US orchestras that were actually performing in that year, I think we did pretty well in that regard, just the fact that we played and are still playing for an audience in direct. Of course, it’s a different format, with social distancing and wearing masks and all that. But personally I actually find positive things even in this kind of COVID fashion, you could call it, ”Gabdullin said with a chuckle.

OKC Philharmonic brings together a global ensemble

When the pandemic temporarily closed the Civic Center and put the Oklahoma City Philharmonic on hiatus in the spring of 2020, Gabdullin, the orchestra’s principal associate violinist, had a message he wanted to get across: “Music is not. canceled. “

Originally from Russia, Gabdullin took a short orchestral work he had composed, recruited nearly 30 fellow musicians from around the world, and led them to remotely record the melancholy piece he called “Covid Romance”.

“There is a sense of hope in this music. It’s very light and upbeat in a way… that’s why I decided to do this one.. I have other compositions, but they just have a different characterGabdullin told The Oklahoman at the time.

The remote recording sessions helped give inactive musicians much-needed motivation, and the video drew thousands of hits when the Oklahoma City Philharmonic posted it to Facebook.

“I did an Instagram post or something like a one year anniversary, and I tagged all the musicians and kind of congratulated them on that one year anniversary of ‘Covid Romance ‘”, did he declare. “I had in mind to get together again, and maybe do something like a post-COVID, maybe with the same group. But I don’t know if it’s going to happen right away … because that this year’s thing for me has been my invention, this new type of electric violin that I’m working on. “

A new type of electric violin

The resident of Edmond is the inventor of the Volta Violinatron, a new type of hybrid electric violin.

“I had to find a new name for it,” he said. “Really, this is a new kind of electric violin that has never been made before. I guess the main difference is that it is electric, but it has a built-in amplifier and speakers and even a sound effect. reverb. … So you don’t really need to plug it in to play, but it’s electric and you can plug it in and use it with more powerful speakers if you want. ”

Gabdullin said he actually came up with the idea for the new hybrid instrument in 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I just went ahead and filed a patent for the idea. With the pandemic, what happened – which was actually a good thing about it – was to have so many extra time and not really doing anything in my quarantine and everything that actually allowed me to build a prototype, ”he said.

“It was ready by the end of the summer, or so, and then I continued to develop the production model.… And now I’m building them completely.”

While he owns the first Volta Violinatron, he sold the second to a musician in Japan, and he sells his original instrument through the Electric Violin Shop in Durham, North Carolina. He and his fellow OKC Philharmonic violinist Angelica Pereira tried out his new Violinatron at the Civic Center when they performed with composer, arranger and musician Kitt Wakeley on May 22, the album’s release concert. ” Symphony of Sinners and Saints “.

Oklahoma lawmakers assist in immigration case

In March, Gabdullin took another personal milestone when he received his green card after nearly 14 years, two applications and a strange and stressful clerical error.

“Even my lawyer said to me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’ because it was weird.… I actually applied for a green card even before the pandemic and got my whole lot approved. immigration status, basically, and my work permit and stuff. The only thing left for me was to go for an interview and receive the actual card. And that didn’t happen because the pandemic has struck, ”he said.

“So we were just waiting for a new date for my interview, and then it was actually November 13th – it was Friday the 13th – when we got these letters in the mail with a rejection. Basically it just said that ‘they never received a certain form, which was sent to them. … it was actually the immunization records that they lost. And because of that, for some reason, they just denied my status ( immigration) and my wife’s status. It was just shocking. “

With the help of Senator James Lankford, then-Rep. Kendra Horn, the staff of the OKC Philharmonic and others, he and his wife, Maria Karpova, managed to unravel the immigration confusion and secure their long-awaited status as permanent residents of the United States.

“It wasn’t really a pleasant experience,” Gabdullin said. “It was a real mess. But luckily, it’s all over now.”

Final season

In keeping with the theme of this pandemic year, Gabdullin’s solo showcase at Saturday’s OKC Philharmonic Classics concert will be a bit unusual. As part of a concert on the theme “German dexterity and panache”, he will play the “Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major K. 211” little played by Mozart, a piece he has chosen by the musical director Alexander Mickelthwate because it fits the pandemic parameters of being a short piece that can use a smaller orchestra.

“Personally, I have never played it (before), because this Mozart concerto is very rarely played,” Gabdullin said. “It’s really simple, in a way. Simple, but beautiful.”

While this season has been anything but easy for the OKC Philharmonic, Susan Webb, director of marketing and public relations, said staff and players have found ways to make the most of this strange time.

“It was a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful musicians that we have,” she said. “We have so many talented musicians, and Marat is definitely one of them.”


“German dexterity and panache” from the Oklahoma City Philharmonic

When: When: Saturday 8 p.m.

Or: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.

Tickets: Limited places in person and virtual tickets to broadcast the show available.


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