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Project Hildegard #41

Only two of Hildegard von Bingen’s chants are directly linked to the Mass. The alleluia o virgo mediatrix, for which I have already made an a cappella setting, and the kyrie eleison. The kyrie is interesting, as it apparently borrows heavily from another chant – o lucidissima apostolorum turba – one of the chants whose text features in Hildegard’s first book of visions (Scivias) and which is generally considered to be one of her earlier chants. More on this later, when I record and revisit o lucidissima 🙂

kyrie eleison

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #40 (2)

The B natural / B flat ambiguity in the manuscript inspired me to play around with two different modes for the revisiting of this one – one starting on D (transposed to A) and one starting on E. Hope you like it!

o choruscans lux – shining gem

photo by Dario Brönnimann on Unsplash

o glittering starlight o most splendid and special form of regal marriage o shining gem you are adorned like a noble lady with no spotted wrinkle and you are a companion of angels and a citizen among saints flee, flee the cave of the old betrayer and come, come into the king’s palace

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #39 (2)

This one has been a while coming. I first recorded Hildegard’s hymn o ignee spiritus back in June, but then life got in the way and I’ve only just been able to finish my revisiting more than three months later.

From the start of this project my method has been to first record the chant freely, and then to compose my polyphonic version based on and inspired by that free interpretation. Usually, I have simply reused my original recording and wrapped my music around it. This time, however, partly to see whether it would be possible to perform this piece live, I decided to reverse engineer it – after writing my piece, I first recorded the cello accompaniment and then rerecorded the voice last of all, copying as far as possible my original interpretation. The challenge was to recreate the freedom of that first interpretation while still fitting the voice with the cellos. I think it works pretty well – but anyone who’s curious to hear the original interpretation will find it here.

o ignee spiritus – gives taste to the soul

the noxious apple…

Fiery spirit praise be to you who works through drums and psalteries.

Human minds blaze through you and the tabernacle of their souls contains their powers.

From where the will ascends and gives taste to the soul and desire is its light.

Intellect calls you with the sweetest voice and prepares rationally made dwellings for you which exude golden works.

Yet you always have a sword to cut away what the noxious apple offers through blackest murder.

When a mist covers will and desires in which the soul flies and circles aimlessly.

But the mind ties will and desire together.

Indeed when the spirit rouses itself because the evil eye and the jaws of villainy demand it you quickly consume it in your flame when you so wish.

But when rationality too through wicked deeds prostrates itself you bind it tight and break it when you wish to and restore it by the influx of experience.

And when wickedness draws its sword against you you plunge it back into its heart as you did with the first fallen angel when you flung the tower of his pride into hell.

And there you built another tower raised from publicans and sinners who confess to you their sins and their deeds.

So all creatures that have life through you praise you for you are the most precious ointment for broken and fetid wounds which you change into the most precious gems.

Now allow us all to gather in you and guide us on the path of righteousness.


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This project is on SoundCloud

From the orchard to the church…

A big thank you to everyone who came to hear us in Strud church on Sunday. If you’d like to listen again to the six polyphonic works that I wrote specially for the female vocal ensemble La Noeva, and that we performed on Sunday, you will find them grouped together on SoundCloud here.

NB These recordings are my overdub versions. I hope that we will get the chance to record them with La Noeva in the not too distant future.

My thanks to all the artists in the Entre Terres et Ciel collective (the singers of La Noeva, Julie Renson, Anne Mortiaux and Françoise Lesage), and to Janine of Quart de Ton asbl, Greta and Charles of Vagabond’art together with the Gesves Fête de Mai team, and the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, for making this project possible.

Join us for the inauguration of the artists’ walk “A la Croisée des Arts” on Sunday 18th September at 10am. It starts at the Grottes de Goyet.

Entre Terres et Ciel

During the weekend of September 10/11, La Noeva will be taking part in the Fête de Mai (postponed until September because of Covid) in Gesves, close to Namur. We will be showcasing a collective project “Du Verger à l’Eglise” (“From the Orchard to the Church”), created in residence together with the artists Anne Mortiaux and Françoise Lesage, and the narrator Julie Renson.

The project is inspired by Hildegard von Bingen and features her music as well as seven pieces from my own Hildegard Revisited project. We will be giving workshops (on Saturday 10th at 4pm), where you will be able to make prints from plants and enter into Hildegard’s many worlds through our playful, creative introduction to her music and “lingua ignota” (a language that she invented herself).

On Sunday 11th at 4pm, we give our main performance in the beautiful 11th century church in Strud, and to end the two weeks of the Fête de Mai we will present the project as part of the inaugural artists’ walk. The flyer below contains all the details. If you would like to take part in the workshops or come to the performance on Sunday, please reserve by sending an email to with in cc. Attendance is free, but places are limited.