Fragile

Fragile (2015)

SATB, hand drum
Commissioned by the Bexley High School Vocal Ensemble

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I immediately knew Joyce’s poem would easily have a life as a choral piece because of the vibrant images and great, lively consonants. What I didn’t realize was how timely the text would be this season.

We enjoy our screens, don’t we, we people of 2015? On fictional TV, in video games and in movies we often see images and stories of destruction, violence, oppression, abuse, the list goes on. And we pay to see it. Just look at a few of the top movies of the summer: “Jurassic World,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” I’ve seen all of those films and loved each one. Unfortunately, though, the world has mirrored this with actual, true accounts of the same kind of tragedies.

In “Fragile” we are reminded that this stuff can be real. Our actual lives include these same events we see so often in fiction. And so we have to decide: as we accept this new reality, inclusive of tragedy, what is our role? Whom do we choose to be? With whom do we surround ourselves?

But you know what? Another film sits near the top of of the highest grossing movies of 2015. “Inside Out” is about sacrifice, the value of all of our feelings, loyalty and teamwork. In that last sentence substitute “choir” for the movie title and I’ve made my point. This movie was brilliantly written and directed by Pete Docter, and I know his family and have met Pete. He is the son of a choir director and sang as a boy, started violin at age 5 and string bass in 9th grade. I don’t think it’s just coincidence that a musician and visual artist finds tremendous value in sacrifice and teamwork.

- Timothy C. Takach, 2015

Text:

You now know that anything could happen;
things that never happened before,
things that only happened
in movies and nightmares
are happening now,
as if nothing could stop them.

You know now that you are not safe,
you know you live in fragile skin and bones,
that even steel and concrete can melt away,
and that the earth itself can come unhinged,
shaken from its orbit around the sun.

You know, now that anything can happen,
it’s hard to know what will,
and what will you do
now that you know?
What words will you say
now that you could say anything?
What hands will you hold?
Whose heart will beat inside you?

- Joyce Sutphen
- Used with permission.