Old and Lost Rivers

Are you familiar with the compositions of Tobias Picker? Have a listen to his tone poem, “Old and Lost Rivers” and tell me what you think. Opera seems to be his real gift–have any readers experienced his works in that genre?

Getting back to the musical link above, this piece has struck me as akin to the slow movements in Aaron Copland’s ballet suites, but perhaps with a bit more staying power. Copland never seemed to dwell on the open prairie too long or spend too much time at the Corral Nocturne. It’s likely just my taste, but I don’t mind spending considerable time taking things slowly.

I was talking with my wife last night about the cardinal virtues. We were sharing our struggles with the quality of hope. Faith and love, it seems to me, are much easier to practice. Or as they say in AA, to fake it until we make it.

Hope is something I find in “Old and Lost Rivers.” There’s that open harmony suggestive of the longing within the human spirit, the awareness that there’s something beyond us, something better, something we can wait for. Instead of grasping for the immediate moment and the crass pleasures, I think, why not put it off? Why not linger on the sometimes delicious self-denial? Psalm 31:22-24:

I had said in my alarm,
“I am driven far from your sight.”
But you heard my supplications
when I cried out to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints.
The Lord preserves the faithful,
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.

All you who wait …


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Old and Lost Rivers

  1. Lynn Hammerlund says:

    Todd, I saw his opera _Emmeline_ on Great Performances on PBS–very powerful. It’s set in Massachusetts in the cloth factories during the 1800s. A young woman is raped by the boss at the factory, gives birth, and is told her daughter died. Years later, she meets a much younger man, and immediately they feel a powerful connection. They marry–and then one of her relatives reveals that her child lived. The boy was adopted…and she married her son. She goes mad. making it a true opera when the title heroine goes crazy. I really liked the music–sounded like early American folk music, and was very singable/listenable. The staging was rather stark. The acting for this story was superb. It debuted with the Santa Fe Opera. Wish they would show it again on PBS! I’m going to give a listen to this piece you’ve posted.

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