Get Business Card

Return to AndHow Arts Home Page

Return to beginning Sound Page

Go to Composition by Date Menu

Go to Compositions Menu Listed Alphabetically

The Broken Chord Cover Design


The Broken Chord-1995

(speaker, piano, & violin)

- performance piece

Music by: Andrew Thomas
Text by:
Michael Dorris

Copyright © PA 1-284-409

Information parts & score available through: Get a Business Card

reading from: The Broken Chord

My son will forever travel through a moonless night
with only the roar of wind for company.

Don't talk to him of mountains, of tropical beaches.

Don't ask him to swoon at sunrises or marvel at the filter of light through leaves.

He's never had time for such things, and does not believe in them.

He may pass by them close enough to touch on either side,
but his hands are stretched forward,
grasping for balance instead of pleasure.

He doesn't ask who he is or why.

Questions are a luxury,
province of those at a distance from the periodic shock of rain.

Gravity presses Adam so hard against reality that he does not feel the points at which he touches it.

A drowning man is not separated from the lust for air by a bridge of thought-
he is one with it-

and my son,
conceived and grown in an ethanol bath,
lives each day in an act of drowning.

For him there is no shore.

Michael Anthony Dorris (January 30, 1945 - April 11, 1997)

Program Notes: Sharyn Bires, a Violin student at the Juilliard Pre-College asked me to compose this work. For a school project, she organized a benefit concert at the Hartford Connecticut Medical Center to support research in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This syndrome is a devastating complex of birth defects, mental and physical, brought on by prenatal exposure to alcohol. My student suggested I read a book, The Broken Cord, by Michael Dorris. The author wrote about his adopted son, Reynold Abel Dorris, whose mother drank alcoholically while she was pregnant, damaging her son’s brain. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a preventable defect, is a problem throughout the world. The children afflicted with the Syndrome die young, and suffer terrible physical disabilities.

To address this issue, I chose to write a work for Violin, Piano, and speaking voice, using an eloquent paragraph from Michael Dorris’s book. We have printed his text in your program. For the premier performance, the author sent this note to be read to the audience: “Sharyn Bires, Andrew Thomas, and all concerned do great honor to the memory of our son, Reynold Abel Dorris (1968-1992), on this occasion. The example of his life and his willingness to allow his story to be shared with readers around the world has allowed families who will never hear Abel’s name to live full lives unencumbered by prenatal exposure to alcohol. He inhabits, poignantly and bravely, that thin boundary between beauty and sadness, accomplishment and waste, gain and loss-- and he is with you in spirit this evening, forever smiling, forever young.”

Premiered:The Juilliard School, Sharyn Bires, violin, Constance Moore, piano
Also: 1995 Hartford, CT, Sharyn Bires, violin, Constance Moore, piano
1996, Lancut, Poland, Howard Kessler,
speaker, Andrew Thomas, piano
New York, 92nd Street , Andrew Thomas, piano