Pre-Existing Condition - for SATB chorus, piano, flute, and percussion - Stephen Caldwell
University of Arkansas Schola Cantorum
Dr. Stephen Caldwell, director
Hannah Mindeman, piano
Nikola Radan, flute
Kyleigh Pell, marimba
Chris Scherer, vibraphone/glockenspiel
Collette Soriano, drum
Music by: Stephen Caldwell
Texts by: Stephen & Maura Caldwell, Li Po, and ee cummings
World Premiere Performance
Notes from the Composer:
In 2016, my wife and I were expecting our first child. The joy and anticipation of a routine ultrasound turned into nightmare. The technician became very quiet. He zoomed in very carefully, taking more pictures than normal of our child’s heart. He sat very still. “Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell, I am going to get the Doctor…” Like 40,000 other babies each year, our son was born with a Congenital Heart Defect. His diagnosis left us speechless: Tetralogy of Fallot with conoseptal hypoplasia, right-sided aortic arch, left-ventricular systolic dysfuction, and left branch pulmonary stenosis. The next several months unfolded like a dream that included multiple medivac helicopter rides, more than 100 days spent in the ICU, two open heart surgeries, millions in medical bills, 20,000 miles driven between Fayetteville and Little Rock, and stress on an indescribable scale. Pre-Existing Condition chronicles that journey, from the onslaught of medical terms thrown at parents when they receive the diagnosis, through the birth of a medically fragile child, through helicopter rides, 911 calls, ambulances and ERs, the stress of extended ICU stays with their uncomfortable chairs and constantly beeping monitors, and the cloud of emotion that runs around these events.
At the center of the chaos, however, is a child. A child that needs love, attention, and support. A child that shows their parents what courage is. Children born with CHDs are remarkably fierce in their determination to live, and are immensely proud of the scars they bear. Though labeled for life by medical and insurance companies as having a “Pre-Existing Condition” these children fight against the tide of that label, to prove to everyone that every life has equal merit.