Listen and Watch

Ebb Tide – Molly Herron

Program notes: Ever the hard and unsunk ground, / Ever the eaters and drinkers . . . . ever the upward and downward sun . . . . ever the air and the ceaseless tides, / Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing and wicked and real, / Ever the old inexplicable query . . . . ever that thorned thumb—that breath of itches and thirsts, / Ever the vexer’s hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides and bring him forth; Ever love . . . . ever the sobbing liquid of life, / Ever the bandage under the chin . . . . ever the tressels of death.

-Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass

The Front Line – Daniel Whitworth

Program notes: Over the past few months I have been working in a classroom at a local preschool. This position has given me the incredible opportunity to form close bonds with many different children from diverse backgrounds, and I have found this work to be meaningful and rewarding. However, like many teachers in this current political climate, I have inevitably thought about the worst-case scenario: what would I do to protect these children in the event of a school shooting? In the United States, teachers are increasingly being expected to sacrifice their lives to protect their students. But the truth is, in the event of a school shooting, I don’t know what I would do. I would like to say that I would take a bullet for any of my students, but it is impossible to know. Ultimately, teachers should not have to grapple with these kinds of questions. It is not fair to ask teachers to be the first line of defense in the event of a shooting, and it is unacceptable that this aspect of our American culture has reached a point where many consider arming teachers in the classroom to be a more viable solution than enforcing reasonable gun control measures. Teachers already dedicate their lives to educate and provide an enriching and safe classroom environment for children—the prospect of dying should not be added to this already heavy undertaking. Ultimately, teachers should not have to grapple with these kinds of questions. It is not fair to ask teachers to be the first line of defense in the event of a shooting, and it is unacceptable that this aspect of our American culture has reached a point where many consider arming teachers in the classroom to be a more viable solution than enforcing reasonable gun control measures. Teachers already dedicate their lives to educate and provide an enriching and safe classroom environment for children—the prospect of dying should not be added to this already heavy undertaking. “The Front Line” is a meditation on my experiences of being an educator in an age where school violence is increasingly normalized.

Recording, mixing, and mastering by Hank Laritson

Two Portraits in Low Light – Ben Portzen

Program notes: Two Portraits in Low Light is a juxtaposition of two nondescript images: one in brooding and rumbling darkness, the other in which brightness emerges from dimness. At the same time, Two Portraits confronts with the division of early masses into two parts: one for sin, and one for praise – one for the poor and one for the rich.

Not Our Kids: A Fox News Operetta – Daniel Whitworth

Program notes: On May 7th, 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan announced that under the administration of Donald Trump, the United States would adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone caught crossing the US border illegally. Part of this policy included separating any accompanying children from their parents (even those legally seeking asylum under international law) and detaining them in “detention facilities” in order to deter additional immigrants from trying to enter the country. Over the following few weeks, details of the appalling conditions at these facilities were brought to light, as well as the traumatic experiences that the detained children and babies have been suffering. Many children have also been lost, likely to never be returned to their parents. No matter what your political views are, separating children from their families is objectively evil. It’s a black and white issue, and it transcends any form of justification. However, conservative media outlets have been attempting to spin the Trump administration’s child separation policy as some kind of positive. Fox News in particular (known for being the most watched news network in America) has been methodically shielding its viewers from the issue through a series of weak justifications, gaslighting, and shifting blame to “democrats” and “liberals.” Not our Kids is a satirical commentary of the right-wing media’s role in normalizing the Trump administration’s child separation policy. For the piece’s text, I compiled a series of quotes from Fox News personalities, anchors, and newscasters that demonstrate how the network is rewriting the immigration narrative. These quotes are then sung and spoken by the vocalist, at times sounding mechanical and abrasive to reflect the propaganda machine of right-wing media, and at times resembling a work of deranged musical theater. My goal is to highlight the insidious and untruthful rhetoric that is being masqueraded as “news” and draw attention to the fact that this propaganda works. Millions of Americans watch Fox News, and consequently, we are facing a disturbing lack of empathy regarding immigration in this country.

Else if Else is joined by; Jamil Fuller, baritone; Bianca Pratte, flute; Daniel Whitworth, alto saxophone; Becky Swanson, tenor saxophone. Audio recording, editing and mixing by Larry Darling. Video by Brenna Stevens. Funding for audio and video recording provided by the George ’51 and Marjorie ’44 Chandler Senior Experience Grant.