work details

It Takes Your Breath Away

  • Instrumentation: English horn and fixed electronic media
  • Completed: November 2021
  • Duration: 9 minutes
  • Texts: On an original poem by Margie McCreless Roe
  • Commission and Dedication:

    Commissioned by Roger Roe and dedicated to the colorful and creative Roe family.

  • Program Note:

    It Takes Your Breath Away  is a dual celebration: expressing the creativity of Roger Roe, Margie McCreless Roe, and their family, while also expressing the relief that has come from an easing of our pandemic situation.

    It is also a new creative venture for me, starting first from the recording of Margie’s own reading of her poem, moving to recorded improvisations at the piano, then to recorded improvisations by Roger on the English Horn, interweaving recorded excerpts of the poem by Roger and his family, and then finally creating a composed English Horn part to perform live above the recorded electronics part, edited and mixed with varying levels of reverberation and distortion. The recorded part is also placed into a time: June 2021, when the cicadas were singing their own song of relief after a long hibernation.

    I dedicated this piece lovingly to my dear friend Roger and to his most remarkable family.

    -- Dominick DiOrio
    November 2021

  • Text:

    It Takes Your Breath Away
    by Margie McCreless Roe

    It is not
    one of those sacred encounters
    where you open your lungs
    and hold the air
    until you can hold it no longer –

    the Grand Canyon, a full moon,
    a granddaughter's dance, distant thunder,
    Brahms' Requiem, Chartres.

    It is a virus.
    It can take away your breath, your breathing,
    until, attached to an exotic bouquet,
    you receive the wind
    of a blessed breathing machine.

    It is causing all of us
    to hold our breath
    in masks of white or grey or black
    or sometimes brilliant colors.

    It is sucking the breath from our days.

    But I know an old story
    where even the dust received breath
    and took on life
    under the trees of a garden.


    Text by Margie McCreless Roe and excerpted from No Season for Silence: Texas Poets and Pandemic, Copyright © 2020 Kallisto Gaia Press. Reprinted with permission.

  • Performances:
    • Premiere (TBD)