Finally, the World Gets the Gritty Choral Work It Deserves

"A Gritty Resolution" for SATB choir debuts this weekend.

Philadelphia composer Melissa Dunphy, who has composed a choir song about Gritty

Philadelphia composer Melissa Dunphy, who has composed a choir song about Gritty (photo courtesy Melissa Dunphy)

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Finally, the World Is Getting the Gritty Choral Work It Deserves

Who had “Local Musician Will Compose a Choral Work About Gritty” on their Philadelphia 2024 bingo card? I certainly didn’t. And yet, that’s just what has happened.

This Saturday at Settlement Music School in Germantown, Philadelphia composer Melissa Dunphy, who’s previously had works performed at Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Disney Hall in Los Angeles, will unveil “A Gritty Resolution” to the world. The five-minute-long tribute to Gritty is a four-part choral work for soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

PhilHarmonia, a local choir, commissioned the Northern Liberties resident to write a choral work with a deep connection to Philadelphia. She had free rein. But it didn’t take her long to land on Gritty as the subject matter.

She originally solicited her Facebook friends for poems about Gritty. But then she came upon the 2018 resolution about Gritty that then-City Councilmember Helen Gym introduced. Dunphy had previous experience turning government documents into texts for choirs to sing — the most notable one was her “Gonzales Cantata,” which came out of the transcripts of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — and she realized Gym’s resolution was the perfect fodder for her Gritty tribute.

“The result is a huge, bombastic hymn where every verse and chorus gets bigger and bigger, unashamedly schmaltzy and triumphant,” Dunphy says of her composition.

I asked Dunphy if she’s a Flyers fan, or just Gritty’s Number One Fan. She laughed.

“What’s horrifying, and I’m a bit hesitant to admit this, is that I’ve ever been to a hockey game in my life,” says Dunphy. “We really don’t have hockey in Australia, where I’m originally from. Ice skating isn’t a ‘thing’ there. But Gritty is the best thing ever. I would die for Gritty.”

Below, the words to “A Gritty Resolution”:

At first, I was disgusted.
I was like, what the hell is this?
Why did you do this?
Why is this a thing?
It was like an hour after that
I fell in love with him.

A deranged orange lunatic,
a fuzzy eldritch horror,
a ghastly empty-eyed Muppet with a Delco beard,
a shaggy grotesquerie,
a non-binary leftist icon,
a raging id,
and an antihero.

Gritty floated from the rafters
into our hearts and minds,
weaving his googly-eyed stare, maniacal smile,
and passion for hockey and hot dogs
into our deep subconscious.
We rose to his defense and claimed him as our own.

Gritty conveys the struggle of modern life under capitalism.
Gritty a source of joy in a time of societal upheaval.
Like our steadfast commitment to justice in the face of adversity,
Gritty will not be mocked or stopped.

An acid trip of a mascot,
ridiculous, horrifying, unsettling, and absurd.
Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.

Gritty may be a hideous monster,
but he is our own.

Want to see (and hear) this for yourself? The show is free and open to the public. Details here.

Another University of the Arts Lawsuit

Yesterday, I told you that a group of University of the Arts employees had filed a federal class action lawsuit against the school, which is suddenly closing this Friday. And within hours of publishing that story, I learned that another group of employees has filed a similar lawsuit against the University of the Arts. Both lawsuits surround the WARN Act, a federal law that requires most employers of a certain size to give employees at least 60 days notice of an impending closure. The suits are seeking 60 days of pay as well as other damages and attorney fees. Meanwhile, scores of protesters took to the streets outside of the University of the Arts on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the closure and the lack of transparency surrounding it.

The Latest On the Josh Kruger Murder

It’s been eight months since the murder of Philadelphia journalist and activist Josh Kruger, and Robert Davis, the 20-year-old man accused of killing him, is expected to plead guilty in the case next week. But Davis’s family, who previously said that Kruger started sexually abusing Davis when Davis was just 15 and providing drugs to him, is now calling on prosecutors to publicly release phone records between the two men, phone records which have been said to show evidence of an inappropriate relationship that may have led Davis to kill Kruger. “It’s about the truth,” Davis’s mom told Fox 29. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is expected to have more to say on the matter after sentencing.

By the Numbers

$6.37 billion: Philadelphia budget proposed by Mayor Cherelle Parker in March and just approved by City Council. So what’s in this budget? Well, you can read the whole thing here.

500: Philadelphia blocks cleaned by the city between Monday and Wednesday. It’s part of the Parker administration’s plan to clean every single city block over a 13-week period. This isn’t just about cleaning up trash. The city is also towing abandoned cars, filling potholes, getting rid of graffiti. This is one Parker initiative I think we can all agree is a good thing.

12: Years that Nicole Marquis sat at the helm of the vegan-focused restaurant group responsible for HipCityVeg, Bar Bombón, and Charlie Was a Sinner before she resigned as CEO on Wednesday. The restaurants will carry on under new leadership. And Marquis has some other ideas in the works, including a lifestyle brand.

Local Talent

Many years ago, Colman Domingo went to Overbrook High School with Will Smith, whose latest Bad Boys sequel (how they’ve actually made four of these movies, I have no idea) just came out yesterday. Domingo may not have the box office draw of Smith, but he’s doing OK for himself. He picked up an Oscar nomination for last year’s Rustin, in which he played the lead. He’s Michael Jackson’s father in next year’s biopic on the troubled pop star. And he just signed on to co-star with Pride of Upper Darby Tina Fey and Steve Carell in the upcoming Netflix series The Four Seasons. As for the new Will Smith movie, something tells me Domingo won’t be first in line to see it. “One movie genre I don’t love so much is testosterone-fueled action movies,” he once told me.