published in the Lincoln Journal Star on December 31, 2003)
musical sounds please audience at church
For the Lincoln Journal Star
Tuesday night was the second run for the New Music Agency, a group of forward-thinking
musicians who played gadgets, synthesizers and traditional instruments for
a crowd of about 50 gathered at the Lincoln Unitarian Church.
For openers, trombonist Scott Anderson joined Joe Holmquist and Rusty Banks
on percussion for “Dances of Greeting,” a 1995 work of Norman Bolter.
Anderson was able to bring the varied textures of the air-clearing “Dances”
to the crowd with enthusiasm and professionalism.
“Heart’s Desire” for Contrabassoon and Piano” got a great rendering from
bassoonist Karen Sandene and pianist Joan Kucera. Sandene’s effortless
playing used this 1991 work’s warm and wonderful chordal progressions to
relax the audience. Kucera provided a flowing curtain of sound backing Sandene.
Rusty Banks’ “Long Pine Creek: New Year’s Day” is a composition framed
this year that uses computer-generated babbling brook sounds that are interrupted
by solos on clarinet, guitar and flute.
Rusty Banks, on guitar, played the first solo, weaving intricate chords
and melody parts around the sound effects.
Christy Banks’ clarinet offered mood-flushed phrasings to skillfully imitate
the coursing water. Betsy Bobenhouse brought an oriental-sounding
flute narrative to accompany the stream’s sound.
The crowd appreciated what they heard in “Long Pine Creek: New Year’s Day”
and talked it up during intermission.
Terry Riley is one of the best known contemporary composers. Holmquist,
Julie Anderson on systhesizer and Diana Frazier’s excellent cello phrasings
brought poetic justice to Riley’s “Room of Remembrance” following the break.
The quietness of this work seemed to create a time for introspection among
“Timepeace” is a new work by Arthur Jarvenin and is a spontaneous performance
work for any number of tickers, music boxes, bells, gongs, and candle chimes.
Sandene handed me a glass bowl and a stick, telling me to “play it no more
than three times at a point where it felt appropriate.” Some played
wind-up music boxes. Others rang handbells or started clocks ticking.
I did my thing, too.
Though “Timepeace” got many in the crowd involved in the performance, the
participation didn’t provide a justification for the piece’s lack of musical
Nonetheless, “Timepeace” audience participation redeemed its purpose
and the work provided a good ending for a novel evening of the newest in
serious musical thought.