(Originally published in the Lincoln Journal Star on December 26, 2003)

New Music Agency dedicated to contemporary music
BY JEFF KORBELIK / Lincoln Journal Star

On Tuesday, local guitarist-composer Rusty Banks will premiere his new piece for flute, clarinet, guitar and ... boomboxes.  The work, "Long Pine Creek: New Year's Day," will feature four of the small stereos strategically placed around the room.

Each boombox will play the same CD but will start at different times in order to produce an echo effect.

"I like to call it my poor-voice surround sound," said Banks, who joined the other musicians of the New Music Agency for a sit-down interview last week at MoJava Coffee.

The New Music Agency is a newly formed chamber music organization dedicated to playing contemporary music.

The group is presenting its second concert, "Timepeace," at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lincoln Unitarian Church.

The ensemble describes the concert as "an evening of contemporary music to lead you gently into 2004."

The New Music Agency is testing the waters of Lincoln's music landscape.

The group grew out of the successful contemporary concerts performed at least once a season by Lincoln's Third Chair Chamber Players.

In November 2002, Third Chair featured pieces by Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Libby Larsen and John Cage.

"I noticed the audiences were younger and more energetic (for those concerts)," said Karen Sandene, New Music Agency member and former Third Chair co-artistic director. "They were really getting into it."

In addition, the musicians loved performing the modern, often avant-garde pieces the kinds of works that didn't have histories or audience expectations.

"We can take risks," Sandene said. "We can try new stuff and try new techniques."

The plan is eventually to create a contemporary concert season, if the audience is there.

"I realized when I was programming for Third Chair that nobody else was doing this stuff," Sandene said.

The New Music Agency is made up of Lincoln musicians who have worked together on numerous occasions and in various configurations around the city.

The Agency includes university professors, Lincoln Public Schools music staff and members of the Omaha and Lincoln symphonies.

Performing at the concert will be Sandene (contrabassoon), Banks (guitar), Scott Anderson (trombone), Christy Banks (clarinet), Betsy Bobenhouse (flute), Diana Frazier (cello), Joe Holmquist (percussion) and Joan Kucera (piano).

Tuesday's concert - the first performance was in October  - will feature four other pieces in addition to Banks' composition.

The featured work will be Arthur Jarvenin's "Timepeace," which uses amplified analog timepieces and other "welcoming sounds" rather than actual musical instruments.

Holmquist called the work contemplative.

"The idea is to look to the future, while at the same time, to sit back and ponder the past," he said.

If you go:

What: "Timepeace," The New Music Agency
Where: Lincoln Unitarian Church, 6300 A St.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $10, $5 students at the door; children 12 and under free

Copyright © 2003, Lincoln Journal Star. All rights reserved.