work details


  • Instrumentation: SSAATTBB a cappella
  • Completed: January 2009
  • Duration: 6 minutes
  • Texts: John Milton (1608-1674) "Hail, bounteous May!"; excerpt from a 2006 speech by Barack Obama; excerpt from Jesus' seven last words from the cross.
  • Audio:
  • Score Preview:
  • Published:

    DD3 Publications, Distributed by Graphite Publishing

  • Commission:

    The Young New Yorker's Chorus and Michael Kerschner, artistic director

    First-prize winner of the YNYC Nathan Davis Prize / Young Composer's Competition - 2009

  • Program Note:

    Sitio was commissioned by, dedicated to, and won the first-prize competition offered by the Young New Yorker's Chorus, Michael Kerschner artistic director.

    I wanted to compose a work that dealt with the beauty of nature, but I soon realized that there was no possible way I could write about this topic without acknowledging the current perils that face our planet.  In searching for texts, I wanted to choose words that were both storied and current.  Milton's poetry has always had a particular resonance for me, and juxtaposing this with Barack Obama's call to action was the perfect foil for these verses.  The cry of "Sitio" (I thirst) is not used here simply as an allusion to a particular Christian scripture, but instead is viewed more ecumenically as a universal cry of hope.  

    The sound world of "Sitio" is stylistically diverse: at one moment the music sounds contemporary, while at another it deliberately evokes Renaissance polyphony.  Eventually this dichotomy breaks down as the voices melt over themselves. A final repetitive cry of the initial Milton text is uttered over and over again while Obama's words are shouted forcibly, eventually giving way and opening into silence.

    --Dominick DiOrio

  • Texts:

    Song on May Morning (1632-33)

    by John Milton (1608-1674)


    NOW the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,


    Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her


    The flowery May, who from her green lap throws


    The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.


      Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire


      Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!


      Woods and groves are of thy dressing;


      Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.


    Thus we salute thee with our early song,


    And welcome thee, and wish thee long.




    Excerpts from a speech “Energy Independence and the Safety of Our Planet” by Barack Obama on April 3, 2006:

    The issue of climate change is one we ignore at our own peril. … high temperatures are drying up already dry land, causing unprecedented drought that’s ruining crops, devastating farmers and spreading famine to already poor parts of the world. … As more land becomes parched, more forests are starting to burn. …

    And yet, despite all the ominous harbingers of things to come, we do not have to stand by helplessly and accept this future. In fact, we can’t afford to. … Climate change may be unleashing the forces of nature, but we can’t forget that this has been accelerated by man and can be slowed by man too. …

    Will we let this happen all over the world? Will we stand by while drought and famine, storms and floods overtake our planet? Or will we look back at today and say that this was the moment when we took a stand? That this was the moment when we began to turn things around? …

    I hope we can start today.


    Sitio                                                            “I thirst.”

  • Performances:
    • June 13, 2009 (Premiere)
      ATMOSPHERE: Land+Sea+Sky
      Young New Yorker's Chorus
      Michael Kerschner, artistic director 
      St. Peter's Church - 619 Lexington - New York, NY