Violinist Hasse Borup doesn't turn down the opportunity of playing new music.
He knows it comes with risks attached, but he's nevertheless a dedicated proponent of today's composers.
"It's really hard to sell a program with just new music," he said in a phone interview from his office at the University of Utah.
But in his experience, he's discovered that it's mainly presenters who have that attitude. Audiences are more receptive.
"People are responsive to new music, if you come with a really strong interpretation," he said. And that's the secret — the performer has to believe in the music he's playing. "You have to show people what you think of it. You have to be convincing. Then it's easier to convince your audience. You have to be sincere and honest."
And that's how Borup believes he relates to contemporary music. And if there is anyone who has any doubts about his sincerity, they can see him in action, as it were, today.
Borup and his longtime accompanist, pianist Mary Kathleen Ernst, will give a recital in Libby Gardner Concert Hall at 7 p.m. that focuses on a couple of pieces by Judith Shatin, "Icarus" and "Tower of the Eight Winds."
" 'Icarus' basically tells the whole story of the famous Greek myth," Borup said. "It's very descriptive and really a tricky piece. It was quite a challenge learning it."
"Tower of the Eight Winds" is a recent piece and received its premiere in December at the Library of Congress. While "Icarus" is based on serial technique, "Tower" is a stylistic cross between John Adams and Elliott Carter, Borup said.
"It's a hybrid piece. There are sections that are minimalist and that have a couple of chords that morph. And there are sections that are melodic. It also has some neat effects in the violin and piano."
Rounding out the recital, which is part of the U.'s Sundays@7 series, he said, are two "more audience-friendly works by Mozart and Franck": Mozart's Violin Sonata in B flat major, K. 454, and Franck's Violin Sonata in D minor.
Borup and Ernst will be taking this program on the road with several performances in Colorado before returning to Salt Lake City, where they will record the Shatin pieces in Libby Gardner Concert Hall in May.
"We're recording the two pieces on the recital, plus two others by Shatin, 'Penelope's Song' and 'Die Fledermaus Fantasy,' which is a fun encore-like piece based on the Strauss operetta," Borup said.
This will be Borup's third CD since joining the U. faculty, and his second with Ernst. Their first album, "American Fantasy," with music by Arnold Schoenberg and some of his American students, was released a few years ago and has been selling very well.
"It was a risky album, but it's been well received in Europe," he said.
His second disc, featuring the violin sonatas of Danish 19th century composer Niels Gade, which he recorded with U. pianist Heather Conner, is scheduled to be released in October.
If you go . . .
What: Violinist Hasse Borup and pianist Mary Kathleen Ernst
Where: Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah
When: April 12, 7 p.m.
How much: free
How much: 801-587-9375