John Cage: The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs

Written by Christopher Cerrone


In category: Song of the Day

Published November 10, 2016

I remember meeting Justine Aronson in a cafe in midtown and immediately inviting her to a party at my house that night. She’s just that kind of person. Turns out she’s a great singer too, and will sing half our show with NYFOS.

I really adore this little John Cage song, “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs.” It’s a setting of Joyce’s Ulysses and goes against every kind of traditional text setting I can think of -— it sort of deals with Joyce words but not really, it’s just cycles through the same pitches over and over again. And yet it works — the almost Virgil Thomson-like plainness of the music lets me soak up the text and the inherent musicality in the words (I was once told if you don’t understand Joyce, read it aloud).

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Winner of a 2015 Rome Prize and a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, the Brooklyn-based composer Christopher Cerrone is internationally acclaimed for compositions characterized by a subtle handling of timbre and resonance, a deep literary fluency, and a flair for multimedia collaborations. Hailed as “a rising star” by The New Yorker, his opera Invisible Cities, based on Italo Calvino’s classic novel was praised by The Los Angeles Times as “a delicate and beautiful opera…[which] could be, and should be, done anywhere.”

Join NYFOS and Cerrone for NYFOS Next: Christopher Cerrone & Friends on December 8 at National Sawdust.


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