The Secret River
Stella C. Y. Sung
3 soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone — fl, cl, bsn, vl, vla, vc, db, harp, pno, perc
While the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings conceives her new novel, her imagination enacts the story of a young girl named Calpurnia, growing up near Cross Creek, Florida. At the start of the story, Calpurnia greets the new day with Mr. Splinters (a wooden toy dog.) She composes a short poem before being called to breakfast, where she learns from her parents that hard times have fallen on the community. To help solve this problem, Calpurnia sets off to the home of Mother Albirtha, a wise woman who lives deep in the forest. Albirtha tells Calpurnia about a secret river teeming with fish— a place she can find only when she trusts her imagination. Calpurnia finds the river, harvests its bounty and saves her family and community. When Calpurnia attempts to visit the river again, Mother Albirtha offers her an important lesson in humility.