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Watch and Listen: Piffaro, PRISM, and Hyunah Yu Perform a Preview of Ludwig's The Anchoress on WRTI

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, PRISM Quartet, and soprano Hyunah Yu performed a preview of a new work by David Serkin Ludwig in the WRTI 90.1 Performance Studio on October 16 at 12:10 pm.

David Serkin Ludwig, described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as "a composer with something urgent to say," has a new monodrama set to a text by poet Katie Ford, exploring a medieval spiritual practice called "Anchorism." Join us for highlights from The Anchoress a day before its world premiere. WRTI's Susan Lewis hosts the composer, poet, soprano Hyunah Yu, Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, and PRISM Quartet in the WRTI Performance Studio.

Watch the performance recorded live on the WRTI Facebook page.

Credit Bella Hristova
Composer David Serkin Ludwig

In medieval times, Anchorism was a tradition where a person, often a woman called an Anchoress, lived life completely in a small cell or Anchorhold attached to a church. Functioning as a spiritual guide to townspeople, she communicated through only one small window and was regarded by the Church as a 'living saint.'

Ludwig says he found the medieval goals of finding solace and meaning "deeply relevant" to today's frenetic digital life. This work, he says, uses the different musical expressions of ancient Renaissance instruments, modern saxophone quartet and the human voice to explore issues of "the ancient and the modern, spiritual and temporal, and the slowness needed to create and contemplate" in today's constantly busy world.

On October 16th, Susan Lewis hosted composer David Serkin Ludwig, poet Katie Ford, and musicians who performed songs II, IV, and VII from the premiere of The Anchoress at The Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on October 17th at 7:30 pm, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

Read the program for The Anchoress concert here.

David Serkin Ludwig's music has been described as "arresting and dramatically hued" by The New York Times. Named in 2012 as one of NPR Music's Top 100 Composers Under Forty in the World, Ludwig has written for many prominent artists and orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra. In 2013, his choral work, "The New Colossus," was selected to open the private prayer service for President Obama's second inauguration. Born in Bucks County, P.A., Ludwig's grandfather was Rudolf Serkin and great-grandfather Adolf Busch. Ludwig is Director of the composition faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music.

Katie Ford's individual poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and The Paris Review, among other literary journals. Her poetry collections include Colosseum, named "Best Book of 2008" by Publishers Weekly; it explores the theme of ruination and pulls from Ford's personal experiences as a resident of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina drove thousands out of their homes. Ford teaches at the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.

Credit Pete Checchia
Soprano Hyunah Yu

South Korean-born American soprano Hyunah Yu's voice has been described as lovely, "with diamond purity." (The Baltimore Sun). She first gained recognition in 1999 as a soloist in St. Matthew Passion with the New England Bach Festival, and has since performed with orchestras and in recital all over Europe and America. A microbiologist turned musician, she studied voice at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Called "a bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets" (The New York Times), the PRISM Quartet has performed in North America, and throughout Latin America, China, and Russia. PRISM has commissioned nearly 300 works, including works by Pulitzer-winning composers Julia Wolfe, William Bolcom, and Jennifer HIgdon, among others. Its multiple recordings include The Fifth Century, with The Crossing under Donald Nally, which won a 2018 Grammy for Best Choral Performance. Quartet members include Timothy McAllister, Taimur Sullivan, Matthew Levy, and Zachary Shemon.

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band recreates the rustic music of the peasantry and the elegant sounds of the official wind bands of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods. Its instrumentarium includes shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, recorders, krumhorns, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion - all careful reconstructions of instruments from the period. Piffaro presents an annual subscription concert series in the Philadelphia region; tours throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and South America; and has recorded 18 CDs since 1992. Members include Joan Kimball, Greg Ingles, Grant Herreid, Priscilla Herreid, Bob Wiemken, and Erik Schmalz.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.