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Widow's Songs (2004) consist of three settings of poems by Cilla McQueen, taken from her cycle of poems called 'Rope'. They attempt to describe thoughts and feelings of a woman grieving for her dead husband. In the process, surrounding images and activities seem to take on extra meaning. In the second song, for example, making bread becomes too difficult to do because of the memories it stirs. The style of the songs is intimate and aims to exploit the beauty of the voice to evoke feelings. Widow's Songs is one of several works by Ritchie inspired by Cilla McQueen's poems, including an opera called The Trapeze Artists and the well-known song Dogwobble.
Commissioned by Tower Voices New Zealand with funding assistance from Creative New Zealand and premiered at the Otago Arts Festival 2004
Three Songs: 1. Over the Back; 2. Bread; 3. Frost
Poems by Cilla McQueen
08 Oct 2004: Performed by Tower Voices New Zealand cond. Karen Grylls; Otago Festival, Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin
26 Oct 2008: North meets South
29 Mar 2009: ACM Festival 2009: 3
Performed by Tower Voices New Zealand conducted by Karen Grylls