Dave and Iola Brubeck on The Light in the Wilderness and the use of spiritual themes in their compositions


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SS: And, you two have continued to collaborate on a lot of these large scale, choral works. And, one common theme that one finds in them is an underlying spiritual or religious message. Is that how you see them, as ways of communicating a spiritual message through these large scale works?

DB: Yeah. It was -- the first title was The Temptations and Teachings of Christ, and for reasons I can't remember, publishers didn't think that was a good title. And, we changed it to The Light in the Wilderness.

IB: And also, I think that as the oratorio expanded, it went beyond just the temptations and teachings and went into some other areas. So, I think they wanted a title that covered everything.

DB: And, in the center of the piece, for me, the message is Christ saying, "Love your enemies. Do good to those that hate you. Bless those that curse you. Pray for those that abuse you." That is such a strong statement, and most Christians don't really follow it.

It would be hard for me to follow, "Love your enemies." Yet, I have read that that is considered the most important thing that Christ said, and was removed from the Old Testament that he usually related to. And, probably someone could find it in the Old Testament as a hint of going that direction. But, he comes right and says, "Love your enemies." To me, that's the only thing that's going to save this world because we're always going to have enemies. And, if we keep trying to destroy one another, we're not going to make it."

IB: Martin Luther King, Jr. also picked up on that. And of course that was important in the next piece that Dave wrote. But, I can remember King saying -- quoting, "Love your enemies." And he said, "That doesn't mean you have to like your enemy." (laughter) But it does mean that you have to love them and that you do unto them in other words.

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