Rain, River, Sea

[for orchestra, choir and soloists]

composed for the Susquehanna University Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra, Jennifer Sacher Wiley, director, 2007: 34 minutes

Notes from the concert program:

The campus of Susquehanna University appears to be a place of peace and repose, with its stately buildings sitting quietly under the trees.  But beneath the surface, it is a place of countless thrilling journeys.  It is fitting for a college to be named after a river.   Just as waters fall across a vast landscape, flow together for a time in a river, and then reach the infinite possibilities of the sea, so does college provide a time and place for each student's passage.  When I was asked to write a piece for this celebratory concert, I knew almost instantly how it would sound, how it would feel, and what it would be about.

Rain, River, Sea is based on a variety of different texts— ancient and modern, sacred and secular, old and new.  There is a programmatic element to the form of the piece, in that it represents the passage of a single day and night— one revolution of the earth.  A mystical and primordial morning in Part One leads to a sun-scorched afternoon river journey in Part Two, and finally culminates in a twilight sea-side reflection in Part Three.  Near the end, after a quiet and lonely expression of spiritual uncertainty, the orchestra presents a dramatic and almost frightening musical sunrise.   It is day again, and we hear the “mist music” from the very beginning of the piece. 

But on this new morning, the mists burn away, and we see the ocean as we did when we were children, when we, elated, ran across the sand to reach it.   The sea waits for us, unchanged.  It reminds us of our simple and joyful beginnings, even after the long and difficult journey.  The last part of the piece is based on the famous poem “I must go down to the sea again…” by John Masefield.  This simple and hopeful choral anthem, originally written for my father, invites us to sail away into the rest of our lives.


Download Full Score

Part One

Part Two

Part Three