David is the recipient of a $60,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. He will compose a new song cycle "The Anchoress" based on text by Katie Ford, for singer Hyunah Yu, PRISM Quartet, and Piffaro: The Renaissance Band.
Ford’s new text will be written to suggest found fragmentary prose that she herself has translated, channeling the voice and inner life of an imagined Medieval “anchoress.” This work explores anchorism; a religious tradition of mysticism largely forgotten now that I believe deserves to be brought to light as a relevant medium to discuss contemporary issues of society, gender, self-discovery, and artistic exploration.
Anchorites were Christians who lived in extreme confinement in a quest for spiritual perfection; a practice that grew in popularity in late medieval England and particularly amongst women. Ford writes: “The anchoritic life is one of the earliest forms of Christian monastic living. However, an anchoress was not a part of a monastic community. Instead, she lived in an enclosed cell, an ‘anchorhold,’ attached to a church. She had one small window through which to speak to townspeople coming to her for guidance. Her daily life resembled a prayerful funereal rite. She has withdrawn and chosen a form of death, which, in the eyes of the Church, transformed her into a ‘living saint.’” (An early Anchorite, Julian of Norwich is believed to have written the first published book by a woman in English literature.)
"The Anchoress" will premiere at the Kimmel Center in the 2017-18 season, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.