The Unarmed Child
“You have to imagine it. When you allow yourself to imagine such tragedies, you’ll be motivated to take action.” – Jeremy Richman
These are the words I remembered as I listened to the news of the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, when 17 people were murdered – Alyssa, Scott, Martin, Nicholas, Aaron, Jaime, Chris, Luke, Cara, Gina, Joaquin, Alaina, Meadow, Helena, Alex, Carmen, and Peter – with another 17 injured, and countless families’ lives changed forever. I felt, yet again, deep sadness. I made the decision to turn off the television, radio, and social media outlets in an attempt to block out the news and push away these feelings.
But I couldn’t.
Feelings of deep sadness continued to resurface, much like they have done during previous mass shootings – the images of children fleeing from the safety of their school home which was never going to be safe again. Parents sobbing as they reunited with their children.
We never saw the images of the parents whose children never came back. But these parents are all we, as viewers of this most recent tragedy, could think about.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting brought back the same waves of emotions which have been occurring all too frequently. And soon, with the sadness finding its home in me, followed by the anger, I began to feel the most devastating feeling – hopelessness.
Hopelessness of this endless epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings. Hopelessness of the most powerful leaders in our country doing nothing more than bickering. Hopelessness that I could only watch this happen again .. and again … and again.
But I, as a composer, have an outlet to rise. I have the agency to rise above hopelessness, to rise above bickering. I have the instrument to rise to the level of anger and then above it. I have the liberty to raise voices, the freedom to surround myself with a community of equally affected people, to work past our sadness, our anger, and our hopelessness, raising our voices for Avielle and her classmates at Sandy Hook, raising our voices for Jeremy and Jennifer and all the parents whose children have been murdered in mass shootings.
And with my collaborators, Chantal and Adrian, and choirs and orchestras around the country, we raise our voices for communities around the country affected by gun violence, from the inner city of Chicago, to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, to the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, to the school shootings in Maryland, Wisconsin, Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, Florida, California, Connecticut, and virtually every state in the last six years.
poet | Mass Settings, original lyrics by Chantel Sellers, featuring 3rd mvmt. by
Adrien Dunn, hip hopera composer and artist, poems by Christina Rossetti & Rabindrath Tagore
about | A setting for the victims of gun violence and their families
accompaniment | Piano, Chamber Orchestra, or Symphonic Orchestra
ages and voicings | College and Adult SATB divisi