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Bran Rogers

first performed on February 21, 2020
Temple-Pittman Historic Home
performed once in 2020


John Thomas Oaks, Matt Nelson, Kathryn York, Seth Hopper

Knoxville, TN


Held in the historic Temple-Pittman house with around 150 observers, this orchestral performance accompanied a poem (hand set and printed at Striped Light Letterpress) and fourteen oil paintings of cicadas. The paintings were considered snapshots of a fleeting life. The orchestra consisted of a violin, cello, bass, piano, and moog/voice. The performance (played forward, then backward) conveyed a life cycle. The poem was looped as it was read over the orchestration, to emulate the building song of the cicada mass.

My life had recently been impacted by a dramatic change that broke my person and challenged me to wake up each morning. The poem was written at the end of a hot summer evening walk—a ritual at the time—that was spent crying and babbling (and the mystery of speaking in tongues was revealed to me). This season of walks allowed for listening to the heartbreaking cries of the cicada that filled the air. After one particularly wrenching walk, I came home and sketched out a cicada on a wood panel. It sat for a couple of months and prompted a very long poem about my life. This was followed by the completion of the first cicada, thirteen more paintings, and then finally, the orchestration to serve as a cinematic backdrop for my open book.

This performance was a lament and contemplation of dormancy, coming out of one’s “shell,” the brevity of life, and the short moment we have to sing a song and leave a lasting impact—be it through music, visual art, digging wells in a third-world country, helping an addict get clean, or simply loving someone with your whole heart and making their life worth living. It occurred just before the world as we know it ended. As horrible as things may have been for the world in 2020, this performance released me, and 2020 ended up being a pretty wonderful year for me.