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SATURDAY

Thaddeus Cahill’s Telharmonium, whose innovative technology led directly to such celebrated keyboards as the Hammond organ, is the totem of early electric instruments. One gargantuan Telharmonium prototype made a celebrated appearance in Washington, D.C., in 1900, its sounds transmitted over local telephone wires. Today, the electric keyboard is celebrated again in the District with “The Keyboard Meets Modern Technology,” a daylong program presented in conjunction with the Smithsonian International Gallery’s exhibition “Piano 300: Celebrating 300 Years of People and Pianos.” The day begins with a nod to the gearheads with a display of various synths and other electric musical instruments (on view from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ripley Center, free) and continues with a panel discussion featuring keyboard innovators like Robert Moog, Malcolm Cecil, and David Van Koevering, as well as prog-rock god Keith Emerson (at 3 p.m. at the Ripley Center, free). In the evening, Mother Mallard (pictured), the world’s first all-synthesizer ensemble, performs with Emerson, playing its own compositions and works by Steve Reich and John Cage (at 8 p.m. at the National Museum of American History, $23). Local label Cuneiform recently released Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co. 1970-1973, a collection of rare and unreleased recordings by the group that showcases leader David Borden’s penchant for both Bach and Terry Riley. Cuneiform has also released Borden’s The Continuing Story of Counterpoint, a multi-CD series that shows him to be the compositional equal of Philip Glass, who has sung his praises. Cahill, I imagine, would as well. Saturday, April 15, at the Ripley Center, in Room 3111, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW, and the National Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW. (202) 357-2700. (Christopher Porter)