A Chain is Broken
Commissioned by NOTUS: Indiana University Contemporary Vocal Ensemble - Dominick DiOrio, director, and made possible with funding from Indiana University’s New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Program.
A Chain is Broken is a musical setting of an original poem, Earth’s Anthem, by Iranian-American author and poet Khashayar Tonekaboni (pen name Terry Pinaud). The poem is a creative reimagining of the poet’s own experience of starting a new life in the United States, after he moved here from Iran to study at Indiana University. In the poem, Tonekaboni writes in both Persian and English, as he illustrates the difficulties associated with finding a new way when he was also gradually learning to understand a new language. As the poem progresses, its initial uncertainty turns to feelings of aspiration, optimism, and joy, even while still recognizing that “with freedom comes a cost.”
The music is also aspirational in its trajectory, moving from the opening murkiness in which a tenor soloist is heard over a foggy confusion of English words to an ever more powerful clarity infused with rhythmic propulsion and drive.
The work was written by DiOrio for NOTUS—the contemporary vocal ensemble at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music—to perform at the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland. The commissioning of the music and the text were both made possible with support from the Indiana University New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Extraordinary Opportunity program. And it is dedicated fondly to those thirty students who first brought it to life, both in America and abroad in New Zealand.
Gham daaram, Maadar I’m sad, Mother
Kojayee, Pédar? Where are you, Father?
Gharibeh-am keh dar I’m a stranger
Beyneh gharibeh-haast Among strangers
Deerooz, baa ham boodeem Yesterday, we were together
Deerooz, khandeh Yesterday, there was laughter
Chehreh-ye Maadar, keh feda kardeh Mother’s countenance and her sacrifice
Khaterehi tanha beyneh sedaahaast Are but memories among the voices
Cheh meegooyand? What are they saying?
Cheh meeporsand? What are they asking?
Beh cheh meekhandand? What makes them laugh?
Gom-shodeh injaa tanhaast He who is lost is here alone
Do they understand?
A smile and
A nod and
A barrier is crossed
And I see unity
Of ideas, of thoughts that brings
Laughter at laughable things
Together, engendering trust
A new world is at hand
New faces, new expressions
Together in diverse collections
An ocean of love and lust
For freedom stands
Facing me, embracing me
Carrying, chasing me
From maybe to must
Trepidation and fear
Friends and lovers are here
Laughing, crying, their faces embossed
With joy, with pain
Still, a chain is broken
And moods are spoken
But with freedom comes a cost
Dear to bear the burden of
Standing on both feet and
Shouting to the world, taking a stand
I am no longer tossed
On the waves of will
Of others. I’ll speak
For me and mine, no longer meek
And for the globe in whose crust
Is baked the love of all
But never is Mother thrust
In the dark of hate
For long when all the I’s
Proclaim Earth’s anthem never dies
Singing the stories of each of us.