When I shall have grown old
Premiered by Mary Bonhag and Peter Martin, summer 2008, Chicago, IL
Text by composer
I spent July 2006 in Fontainebleau, France, living in the home of an elderly woman named Janeanne while studying at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. One night Janeanne began to talk about aging, and how growing older had changed her. The woman portrayed in “When I shall have grown old” is not Janeanne, but rather the woman Janeanne knew she would have become had she not sought new activities and friends after her husband died: sober, withdrawn, living on memories of the past within the confines of a narrow routine. Here this imaginary woman speaks from a younger perspective, anticipating her old age as a time of ecstatic austerity and asceticism. But as her vision progresses, she realizes the loneliness at the heart of this solitary future.