• SATB a cappella and soprano solo
  • 5 min
  • Mary Elizabeth Frye
  • English

Programme Note

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.

ā€” Dominick DiOrio