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Dominick DiOrio

I Am (2013)
Text Writer
Mary Elizabeth Frye
G Schirmer Inc
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Year Composed
5 Minutes

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Programme Note
Dominick DiOrio I Am (2013)
First Performance
February 15, 2014
Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) State Conference
Whitman College Chamber Singers
Jeremy Mims, director
Yakima Convention Center
Yakima, WA

Composer Note:
Mary Elizabeth Frye's poem "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" has been used time-and-time again for funeral benedictions, invocations, and other ceremonies of mourning. Strangely enough, Frye preferred to keep her authorship of the poem anonymous, and it remained this way until 1998 when newspaper columnist Abigail van Buren publicly acknowledged her.

My musical setting begins very placidly, and takes the refrain of "I am" as a mantra for existence. The use of dramatic soprano solo is both a musical and theatrical choice, with the soloist communicating from beyond death to those still alive. The chorus is also a character in the action, at times reclusive or electric, but always with a steely presence. Most importantly, this is not a tepid music: the act of "being" is here an act of defiance, with life triumphing over the grave.

— Dominick DiOrio

  • 20 AUG 2018
    Aspen Music Festival
    Aspen, CO
    Seraphic Fire
    Patrick Dupre Quigley, conductor

Dominick DiOrio's I Am is a haunting weave of clustered lines suggesting heaven, the voice of an angel emerging near the end.
Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone,30/03/2015
Dominick DiOrio’s I Am, set to a text by Mary Elizabeth Frye about the afterlife, expands from a minor second into a mosaic of clusters that float in and out amid more straightforward settings of lines.
Greg Stepanich, Palm Beach Arts Paper,26/10/2014
The purity of Jessica Petrus' high, vibrato-less soprano took solo honors in Dominick DiOrio's I Am, a masterful weaving of repetitive fragments into larger motifs.
Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review/Miami Herald,19/10/2014
The sheen of Ms. Quinn’s soprano is put to radiant use in I Am, Dominick DiOrio’s setting of Baltimore-born Mary Elizabeth Frye's 'Do not stand at my grave and weep,' one of the most familiar poems in the American popular canon despite never having been published or copyrighted by its author. Employing recurrent melodic figures almost in the manner of the Flemish masters of Renaissance polyphony, DiOrio’s music conjures an atmosphere of unsettling serenity in which Seraphic Fire’s tonal vividness reveals every harmonic metamorphosis.
Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts,18/09/2014
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