Lisa Billingham, director
Meg Owens, oboe
This work is commissioned by the Heiden Endowment Fund of Falls Church Presbyterian, Falls Church, Virginia and is dedicated to the Chancel Choir, Dr. Lisa A. Billingham, conductor
Giving back to the profession brings me great joy. It was in service to the American Choral Directors Association as chair of the composition initiatives standing committee that I had the chance to first meet Lisa Billingham, who also served as a national chair. Lisa shared with me her desire to commission a work for the first time, and to do so by honoring a poet from her community at Falls Church Presbyterian Church: Myra Binns Bridgforth.
Myra is inspiring. She describes herself as a “poet, singer, and retreat leader” who works to calm our spirits and open our bodies, hearts, and souls to the practice of mindfulness and the calm stillness of silence. In her poem, “Kingdom,” Myra draws from her work as a counselor, creating a text that is both meditation and mantra. I have endeavored to honor her words with a musical setting that gives room for contemplation and spiritual awakening. The melodies are simple, often repeating just a single note, so that the text is front and center. The harmonies are slow moving and fragrant, suggesting the aroma of incense and the timelessness of existence. When the music does get excited, it does so briefly, only to soon retreat back to its inner self, as if exploring emotions and coming back to one’s center.
I have chosen the organ and the oboe for their evocative colors and connection to the breath. Both are instruments that take breath to sound, and both are critical to the work’s evolution and gradual unwinding. As one practices meditation, one realizes that all is already present: “the kingdom is already here.”
I am grateful to the Heiden Endowment Fund of Falls Church Presbyterian Church for making this commission possible. I dedicate this work to Lisa Billingham, her Chancel Choir, and the poet Myra Binns Bridgforth, in thanks to them for their commitment to new music and the bounty of their many gifts.
-- Dominick DiOrio, January 2018
Lord, I want to live in your
kingdom now; to be renewed
in love, surrounded and whole.
In your kingdom those who ask
for bread are fed; in your kingdom
we stand with each other strong
and bold. Your kingdom is now,
it was and always will be so near.
The kingdom is already here.
We know that flame of love!
The candle within, lit each day, anew
sometimes it even blazes!
Remind us to be still and listen
to find you. When all seems lost
to practice being kind. Help us, Lord
to tend the flame and not live in fear.
Your kingdom is already here.
Breathe in to the sound of Yah—
breathe out to weh— God of Moses,
opens a door; breathe in the pain
of the world, breathe out peace.
We are in the kingdom when we
are loving the world. Imperfect as we are,
we are in the kingdom when we know
your accepting love. God of Moses
in the wilderness and right now in you.
Tending the flame, so we won’t live in fear.
The kingdom is already here.
-- Myra Binns Bridgforth, July 8, 2017