Instant Culture

A Choral Drama for Two SATB Choirs, Soloists and Piano [with optional trumpet, oboe and bassoon parts])
Dan Locklair

Instant Culture is a Choral Drama for Two SATB Choirs, Soloists and Piano (with optional trumpet, oboe and bassoon parts). During the 1980’s the late choral directors Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Thurston Dox sought to create interest in an old genre made new, the choral drama. In choral drama, characters may act or speak, but the most important dramatic force is the chorus. Though such works may be staged, such staging is normally kept to a minimum and is not necessary for the success of the composition’s impact.

In 1984, Thurston Dox (until his untimely death, Director of Choral Activities at Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY) approached me with a commission from Hartwick College for a choral drama of approximately ten minutes in length. I suggested that the American lyricist, Alicia Carpenter, be commissioned to create the libretto and lyrics for the piece and Thurston Dox immediately agreed. Alicia Carpenter’s resulting libretto was a mirror of our hectic times. Her concise words offered a strong statement to our modern, busy life, encouraging us to “take time” for what is important: “But life is short, and art is long…better take time to smell the flowers.”

Instant Culture features two solo characters: the Composer and the Authority. Chorus I personifies the Composer, speaking for the intuitive, heart rules the head, the eternal and the artistic. Chorus II personifies the Authority, speaking for the factual, head rules the heart, the colloquial and the practical. The drama and tensions created by the interaction of these ideas are what make Instant Culture a product of the times in which we live.

Instant Culture received its World Premiere on 26 April 1985 by the Hartwick College Choir (Thurston J. Dox, Conductor) at the Eastern Division Convention of the Music Educator’s National Conference (MENC) in Hartford, CT.

Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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