Ancren Chronicles

(1980)
The title derives from “anchoress,” an archaic word meaning “a woman who lives in religious seclusion; a nun.”
 
“Ancren Chronicles” was commissioned by the Shenandoah Conservatory women’s choir, Cantus Singers, at the request of its director James Laster. A song cycle, the piece consists of thirteen poems written by Susan Purinton, whose daughter was enrolled in an all-girls Catholic school located near a small Virginia town on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The texts deal with the girls, the nuns, and their relationships, over the course of a year, from fall arrival to spring graduation. The recurring refrain, “love is the essence of life,” binds the texts into a narrative of love, hope, mystery, exploration, and pain. 
Audio Excerpt
Instrumentation
Duration
33:41
Premiere
Shenandoah Conservatory, Winchester VA, April 1980

Cantus Singers, James H. Laster, director; Alyce Rideout, harp; Jeffrey Armor & Robin Downing, percussion
Commission
Cantus Singers
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