UK-based ondes Martenot player


Upcoming events at which you can hear Josh Semans and the ondes Martenot in action.

Come see my ondes Martenot and I.

I love sharing the ondes Martenot with audiences of all sizes, in all sorts of venues! I’m always working hard to organise more and more opportunities for people to experience the ondes Martenot in person, so if you are interested in having me perform at your venue, festival, or any other event, send me an email! When I perform, I always try to talk a little in between every few pieces, if the programme allows it, introducing those unfamiliar with the ondes to its history, legacy, and playing technique.

A mesmeric performance. The sound of the ondes Martenot has a human subtlety and a crystal purity.
— Francis S.
We’d never seen such an instrument but were stopped in our tracks when Josh played. What a sound!
— Rhian P.
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  • Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library Market Square Preston, PR1 2PP United Kingdom (map)

Join us for this unique concert, offering an opportunity for a rare encounter with the ondes Martenot—an extraordinarily versatile electronic musical instrument with a sound quite unlike anything else.


The concert will feature a selection of classical and contemporary pieces played on piano and ondes Martenot, centred around Olivier Messiaen’s Oraison—a transfixing instrumental meditation on time, transience, and entrance into the eternal. With the exceptional acoustics of the Harris Museum’s vaulted atrium, this is sure to be an experience that will appeal to all music-lovers—a chance for immersion in the waves of the ondes Martenot, which, while being made of wood, metal and circuit-boards, astonishes in the human extent of its subtlety and range.

First showcased in 1928, the instrument was invented by Maurice Martenot, a French cellist who served as a radio operator in the First World War. While tapping out messages, he became fascinated by the musical potential of the valve-based radios he was using and before long was performing ‘songs’ for his fellow soldiers (to mixed response). In the years after the war, Martenot worked to develop his idea for the instrument which underwent a series of significant evolutionary transformations before it assumed its present keyboard-like form.

While it can be played with keys like a traditional keyboard, the ondes is distinguished by a string running along the length of keyboard, which can be moved by means of a ring worn on the right index finger, and it is this which gives the instrument its distinctive voice-like range. Ethereal and otherworldly, in addition to being taken up by the avant-garde, it is one of the few electronic instruments to have been adopted by classical musicians, as well as featuring in contemporary rock and pop music and a number of film soundtracks such as Lawrence of ArabiaGhostbustersThere Will be Blood and The Revenant.

Between renditions, Josh will be talking about the origins and the mechanism of the ondes, throwing light on this unearthly instrument and the manifold inspirations for its music, making this an event not to be missed. Along with Josh on the ondes, Joshua Gidney will feature on piano.


  • Doors open: 7pm

  • Start: 7:30pm - Finish: 9:30pm

  • 15 minute interval

Bar accepts cash and cards.


  • Please note that this is a seated show

  • This is a step-free venue with an accessible toilet

  • If you need more access information or space for a wheelchair, please contact us before the event.

Tickets also available from the Harris shop.

Earlier Event: August 25
Enharmonic (Live)
Later Event: October 4
Chorley Live Day 1