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This fall, composer David T. Little unveils his theatrical choral piece—a “ritual grotesquerie,” premiered by The Crossing and the Bergamot Quartet in Philadelphia.

Tell me what you eat and
I’ll tell you what you are.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

This fall, David T. Little introduces his theatrical choral work SIN-EATER, composed for GRAMMY-winning new music choir The Crossing and Donald Nally, with the Bergamot Quartet. Co-commissioned by The Crossing and Penn Live Arts, the piece receives its world premiere performance (with live recording) on October 14-15 at Penn Live Arts’ Harold Prince Theatre in Philadelphia.

In SIN-EATER, Little holds a mirror to modern society through the ancient practice of paying the poor to ritualistically “eat” the sins of the rich. Upon a privileged person’s death, a loaf of bread would be placed atop the corpse and then consumed by a lower-ranking person from the town outskirts—thus taking on the deceased person’s guilty deeds. In this “ritual grotesquerie,” Little draws parallels to modern-day "sin-eaters"—soldiers, first responders, essential workers, social media content moderators—who absorb the ills of society, enabling others to lead safer, healthier, and oblivious lives. The composer explains: “Through the lens of this practice, SIN-EATER investigates whom we ask to sin or suffer for us today.”

Over the course of the 70-minute choral work, Little weaves together texts from a wide range of eras to illuminate the connections across time: Jonathan Swift (Irish, 1667-1745), Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (French, 1755-1826), Stephen Crane (American, 1871-1900), Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay (Jamaican-American, 1890-1948), Wilfred Owen (English, 1893-1918), Harold McGee (American, b. 1951), Anne Elizabeth Moore (American, b. 1971), and others.

The Crossing has previously commissioned David T. Little to compose the piece dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet as part of their Seven Responses project, which was recorded in 2017.

> Listen to dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet on Spotify

Performance Information

Saturday, October 14 at 8pm ET
Sunday, October 15 at 3pm and 7pm ET
World Premiere of SIN-EATER by David T. Little
Performed by The Crossing and Bergamot Quartet
Conducted by Donald Nally
Penn Live Arts (Harold Prince Theatre) | Philadelphia, PA
More info

>  Further information on Work: SIN-EATER

Photo: Maria Allen

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