work details

"Stabat mater dolorosa..."

a musical sculpture to the Mater Dei

  • Instrumentation: SATB, countertenor, flute, clarinet, viola, cello, piano, perc, and viola da gamba
  • Completed: February 2007
  • Duration: 18 minutes
  • Texts: Walt Whitman (1819-1892) "In midnight sleep" from Leaves of Grass; Emily Dickinson "This world is not confusion"; Traditional, "Ave maria" (in Latin)
  • Video:
    • Stabat mater dolorosa

  • Audio:
    • "Stabat mater dolorosa..." - I: La meditation au Corps Cassé

      Live recording from November 2011 featuring: Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba; Schola Cantorum of Boston - Fred Jodry, director; and Juventas New Music Ensemble - Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director and conductor.

    • "Stabat mater dolorosa..." - II. In midnight sleep

      Juventas New Music Ensemble

      Martin Near, countertenor
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor

    • "Stabat mater dolorosa..." - III: Ave maria... gratia plena

      Live recording from November 2011 featuring: Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba; Schola Cantorum of Boston - Fred Jodry, director; and Juventas New Music Ensemble - Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director and conductor.

    • "Stabat mater dolorosa..." - IV: This world is not conclusion (Dickinson)

      Live recording from November 2011 featuring: Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba; Schola Cantorum of Boston - Fred Jodry, director; and Juventas New Music Ensemble - Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director and conductor.

    • "Stabat mater dolorosa..." - V: Epitaph

      Live recording from November 2011 featuring: Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba; Schola Cantorum of Boston - Fred Jodry, director; and Juventas New Music Ensemble - Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director and conductor.

  • Press:
  • Quotes:
    • DiOrio’s setting is highly effective, in a lucid modern idiom, with Near’s sweet tone well conveying the placid denial of brutal reality... The Ave Maria is one of the most striking modern settings we have heard, and was our favorite bit of music for the evening.

      Vance R. Koven, Boston Musical Intelligencer

  • Movements:
    1. La meditation au Corps Cassé
    2. In midnight sleep (Whitman)
    3. Ave maria... gratia plena
    4. This world is not conclusion (Dickinson)
    5. Epitaph
  • Program Note:

    “such was a poet and shall be and is
    -- who’ll solve the depths of horror to defend
    a sunbeam’s architecture with his life:
    to hold a mountain’s heartbeat in his hand.”
    -- e. e. cummings


    “Stabat mater dolorosa…” is conceived as a literal sculpture in sound with the formal architecture of a cantata. The work does not actually set the text of the Latin sequence. Rather, it creates a monument to the image of the “sorrowful mother standing.” To this degree, it incorporates a symmetrical structure throughout, both in its five-movement design—with vocal soloist in 2, 3, and 4, and choir only in the middle movement—and in the physical setup of its players on stage. The viola da gamba is the instrumental foil of the countertenor; providing a balance of timbre and hue.

    I set texts of Whitman and Dickinson for the countertenor, and the choir and soloist join together for a singing of the “Ave Maria.” These middle movements are framed by two sparse instrumental textures, using only a portion of the ensemble. Contrary to most of my music, no hint of optimism is to be found here. We become witnesses to the act of grieving over a loss.

  • Performances:
    • November 18, 2011 (Premiere)
      “Through the Looking Glass: old sounds reinvented” 
      St. John the Evangelist – Boston, MA
      Juventas New Music Ensemble; Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director
      Schola Cantorum of Boston, Fred Jodry, director
      Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba
    • November 19, 2011 
      “Through the Looking Glass: old sounds reinvented” 
      First Unitarian Church - Providence, RI 
      Juventas New Music Ensemble; Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director
      Schola Cantorum of Boston, Fred Jodry, director
      Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba
    • November 20, 2011 
      “Through the Looking Glass: old sounds reinvented” 
      The Boston Conservatory - Seully Hall - Boston, MA 
      Juventas New Music Ensemble; Lidiya Yankovskaya, artistic director
      Schola Cantorum of Boston, Fred Jodry, director
      Martin Near, countertenor; Douglas Kelley, viola da gamba
    • October 8, 2013
      "Timescapes: Ancient Reflections in Modern Music"
      NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble
      Dominick DiOrio, conductor
      Andrew Rader, countertenor; Eric Fisher, viola da gamba
      Jacobs School of Music - Auer Hall - Bloomington, IN