Photo by Brian Doherty
Described as “impressive,” and having “a fine ear for sonority” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), Calvin Hitchcock is a composer, performer, music director, and administrator based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from the Midwest and raised in the Evangelical tradition, he is inspired and motivated by the human condition and our innate affinity for polarization. His work often explores themes of religious subversion, control, and resistance, and experiments with narrative form and interdisciplinary integration. Recently, his opera 819: based on the Stanford Prison Experiment placed second in the 2019-2020 American Prize. Calvin holds a Bachelors of Music in Composition from Cedarville University, a Southern Baptist university in southwest Ohio.
Taking its title from a Flannery O’Connor quote, “cursed belief” is a meditation on an upbringing in the American Evangelical community, innocent religious fervor, and people or systems that twist said fervor into militaristic power. The tune of “Jesus Loves Me” reflects the child-like faith of a young believer toddling through the harmonic underpinnings of “Onward Christian Soldiers”, first learning and then proclaiming through soaring melody, “yes, Jesus loves me!” This sentiment is quickly trapped by the looping phrase “for the Bible tells me so” as the adolescent believer struggles to cope with the human realities of Christendom. His crisis of faith is drowned out by an aggressive Military March for Christ. Overpowered and broken, he eventually joins the parade “with the Cross of Jesus going on before”. The piece is book-ended by a Sunday School class performance led by a zealous teacher marching her children into the kingdom amid the applause and laughter of an approving church congregation.