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Forte: The glory of shared sound


Photo courtesy of Yakima Symphony Orchestra

YAKIMA, Wash. -- What do you do when you feel spent? When frenetic schedules, family duties or work deadlines leave you feeling weary and detached?

Our world of digital connection is full of wonders, but it can contribute to the fraying of our spirits by the way it chops up our time and relationships. It generally invites us to have quick, cursory interactions with others, rather than going deep.

It provides information, not the unfolding that comes with truly investing in knowing and being known by another.

When was a wound in any friendship ever healed through a Facebook or Twitter exchange? These tools tend to polarize rather than unite, and can leave us feeling isolated.

When we are tired and empty, we turn easily to entertainment. It is so convenient to push a button and have television, Netflix or a video game fill the silence.

There are many delights to be found in the stories we access this way, but there is an inherent passivity, too. The screen is telling a story, just like someone’s online status reports some tiny piece of his or her life. The listening is one-way, and a response is not required of us.

How is this different from attending a live music performance?

There is much to be said about the value of art; great works by masterful composers stir us deeply, touch our hearts and invite us to engage with the music and ourselves.

We can be refreshed by the glory of sound, and encounter transformation. But another powerful factor is the ritual of coming together in public with a great number of fellow humans to share an experience.

The word communal comes from a Middle English adjective meaning “common, unanimous.” A concert is powerful because we come together, we share something in common. We are not alone.

As Yakima Symphony concertmaster, when I walk onstage at the beginning of a concert and bow to the audience, I thank you for your presence, for sharing the music with the orchestra. May the act of listening and responding to each flowering moment refresh us and weave our frayed edges back together.

• Denise Dillenbeck is the Yakima Symphony Orchestra concertmaster. She has been a member of the orchestra since 2008 and concertmaster since 2013. She also is concertmaster of the York Symphony in Pennsylvania and the Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle, and a featured artist with the Lake Chelan Bach Festival and the Siletz Bay Music Festival. Learn more about the Yakima Symphony Orchestra at and about Dillenbeck at

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