From:  Lincoln Journal-Star, Friday, June 25, 2004

Something Fishy’s Going On
Centerpiece of New Music Agency Concert:  Goldfish

By Jeff Korbelik

We all know fish can swim, but can they dance?

Music lovers and the curious will find out Saturday when The New Music Agency presents “Action, Adventure and Goldfish,” the first of two summer concerts at the Lincoln Unitarian Church.

The ensemble will close the first event with Karen Sandene and Jeff Campbell performing John Steinmetz’s unique “Fish Phase for Two Contrabassoons and Goldfish.”

The piece will feature a bowl with two goldfish sitting between the musicians as they play.

“If they don’t do anything, then it will be an interesting moment; if they dance that would be really cool,” Sandene said.

The New Music Agency is beginning its second season of performing contemporary music inside and outside of Lincoln.

The second summer concert, “The Agency Animal Show” is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 11 at the church.  It will feature original and whimsical music about animals and include treat bags for kids.

The seven-member New Music Agency is made up of university professors, Lincoln Public Schools music staff and musicians of the Omaha and Lincoln symphonies. 

Some of them have performed in contemporary music ensembles in Minneapolis and Birmingham, Ala.  Two are active composers in this genre.

The Saturday concert, in addition to the Steinmetz, will feature:

Wilson’s “Avanti” will feature New Music members Scott Anderson (trombone) and Joe Holmquist (percussion).

According to Wilson, the idea for “Avanti” is based on the composer’s real-life adventure with an Avanti sports car.

His trombonist friend was a winning contestant on the television game show “Wheel of Fortune.”  He took home a considerable amount of cash and the sports car. 

Before selling the car to pay the taxes on the cash winnings, Wilson’s friend treated him to a ride in it “at breakneck speed” through the back hills of the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania.

Anderson said he and Holmquist have enjoyed rehearsing the piece, but think the ride in the “sports car” to be herky-jerky rather than gliding.

“It reminds me of my old ’67 Impala with the bad shocks,” Anderson said.  “Every bump you hit sends you up and down.”

“Once past the “rough” start, the piece settles down, he said.  The duo discovered the composer’s references to the jazz idioms and Jewish liturgical music.

Anderson will make his trombone, at times, sound like a cantor singing in a synagogue.

“That part is very effective,” he said.

The goldfish, however, most likely will be the concert’s focal point.  According to Sandene, composer Steinmetz wrote an optional piece for chamber orchestra that doesn’t require the goldfish.

“But it’s not recommended (to leave out the goldfish),” she said.

Sandene, like the audience, is anxious to see if the fish will dance.

She has a teacher friend who has aquariums in her classrooms.  More than once, the students have noticed the fish move rhythmically when music is played loudly.

“We’re going to find out what our fish will do,” she said.