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Danish violinist offers new taste in performance

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I don't like McDonald's.

For starters, the food is greasy, mass-produced, unhealthy, bland and uninteresting. (I won't even begin to touch my social, cultural and environmental complaints against the place.)

It remains a mystery to me why anybody would want to eat there. I mean, If burgers are your thing, there are much better burgers to be had. And if fast food is your thing, there are other places with food that tastes better and can be healthier (depending on what you order).

I have similar feelings about the music world, as well.

There's bland music aplenty, the aimed-at-the-lowest-common-denominator sort of stuff that pacifies but doesn't really nourish the soul. I know that we all like to stick with what is familiar, but there's a lot to be gained by trying something new.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had dinner with some friends who moved here from the Middle East. Dining barefoot and cross-legged on a mat on the floor, we were served a delicious meal with imported spices and fruits that we had never tasted before.

The food was wonderful, but we enjoyed the conversation even more. I couldn't help but think of when these friends first arrived in the United States and could barely speak English. Trying to talk took a lot of effort at first, but our mutual struggles to communicate are rewarded now in ways we hadn't imagined.

I thought of that experience this week when I went to the University of Utah's Canyonlands recital, featuring Danish violinist Bodil Rorbech, whose entire program featured works by living composers.

Three of the four pieces were played with electronic tape.

At first, the "different" sounds took me back to college, when I was first introduced to 20th-century music. The language of the music was difficult to understand at first, and, quite frankly, there was some that I didn't like. But after awhile, I grew to crave it. The richness of the many layers, and the freshness of the new ideas, kept me coming back for more. The messages and contemporary language of my own generation addressed the world we live in now, and I liked feeling a part of it.

Some of it seemed very intellectual and scientific, pushing the theoretical boundaries of music without caring much about the audience. It was almost like research for the sake of pure science.

Some of it screamed with pain at the horrors of the Holocaust, the world wars and other recent events. As with the Holocaust itself, it wasn't very easy to face, but it represented such an important part of our human history that I found it compelling.

Some of it incorporated the cutting edge of technology, using computers and computer-generated sounds as instruments.

All of it struggled, in some way, to express the human experience of living now. I liked Rorbech's program selection. The pieces incorporated intellectual ideas, contemporary language and cutting-edge technology applied in an emotional, almost romantic way that could communicate to the heart before ever reaching the head.

As I listened to Rorbech, enjoying this emotional, intellectual, musical and spiritual feast, I couldn't help but wish that more people were there to enjoy it.

So many people are afraid of new music.

But as with the other feast with my friends, I was grateful I had taken the effort to understand a new language and try some new dishes.

It sure beats McDonald's.


E-mail: rcline@desnews.com