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Come and sing Hildegard von Bingen!

During the next academic year, I will be running a series of monthly workshops (given in English, French and Dutch) that will teach you to sing Hildegard von Bingen from her original notation. Once you’ve tried it you’ll never look back 🙂

Music was a central part of Hildegard’s life – she considered it to be a foretaste of paradise. This project concentrates on her Marian chants, which we will explore using two magnificent 12th century manuscripts.

Why learn to read her language?

Singing Hildegard from modern editions is problematic because our modern notation encourages a note-by-note interpretation of her melodies. Using the original notation as a basis frees up your mind and your voice as you follow the direction of the musical phrases, shown graphically on the page. It is a language that once learnt is never put aside!

Who should come?

Many different kinds of singer will benefit from these workshops, from music students and professionals interested in learning about medieval music and Hildegard’s compositions, to musical amateurs drawn by her brilliance. The only technical requirement is that you can pitch and hold a note, because we will learn the language of the notation together.

Practicalities:

There are eight workshops planned between October 2023 and May 2024 (dates on the flyer), all in the beautiful Brussels Cathedral on Saturday mornings between 9:15 and 12:00. There will also be 2 group performances, one mid-way through the series and one at the end, and there will be an end-of-series concert given by the ensemble La Noeva on Sunday May 26, 2024 at 4pm.

Because of the nature of these workshops, I am limiting the number of participants to 10. First come first served! Please contact me (penelope.turner@telenet.be or +32 476 713 525) and I will send you a registration form. The basic prices are mentioned on the flyer, but please note that I am offering a reduction of 25% for professional musicians, the unemployed and the over 65s, and a reduction of 50% for students.

Big thanks to the Cathedral for hosting this project. I can’t wait to share this wonderful music with you!

Project Hildegard #43(2)

A lighter, more optimistic piece this time: inspired by the hope that Spring brings with it.

o quam preciosa – precious hope

R: O how precious is the virginity of the virgin, whose door is closed and whose insides the holy divinity infused with its heat so that the flower grew within her. And the son of god came forth from her secret parts like the dawn.

V: And thus the sweet germ that is her son through her closed belly opened paradise.

And the son of god came forth from her secret parts like the dawn.

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #43

As we approach a cluster of Marian feasts, my next chant in this series is a particularly beautiful responsory dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Stay tuned to see what polyphonic setting it inspires me to create 🙂

o quam preciosa

For anyone following the manuscript while listening, there are a few interesting features that require a short explanation (NB this chant is only in the Riesencodex, not in the Dendermonde manuscript, so comparison is not possible). Firstly, there is a flat sign during the word “habet”. I have chosen to interpret this as a B flat, written (admittedly unusually) under the note, rather than an E flat written to the side of the note. My reason is that I have yet to find an E being flattened in any other chant. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this!

Secondly, the two words “filius ipsius” have a “b” and “a” above them respectively. I have taken this to be an indication by the scribe that they were mistakenly written down in the wrong order, and I have therefore followed the lead of the Beuroner Kunstverlag modern edition and switched the words around.

And lastly, you will see that I have substituted “ventris” for “mentis” – again following the Beuroner Kunstverlag – as this seems much more likely given the meaning.

R: O how precious is the virginity of the virgin, whose door is closed and whose insides the holy divinity infused with its heat so that the flower grew within her. And the son of god came forth from her secret parts like the dawn.

V: And thus the sweet germ that is her son through her closed belly opened paradise.

And the son of god came forth from her secret parts like the dawn.

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #42(2)

This piece is dedicated to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria – please consider giving a donation to a non-profit of your choice.

o cruor sanguinis – blood of blood

O blood of blood that sounded on high, when all the elements joined together in lamentation and with trembling, because the blood of their creator had touched them. Anoint us for our weariness.

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This project is on SoundCloud

Project Hildegard #42

I dedicate this chant to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. My thoughts are with you.

o cruor sanguinis

O blood of blood that sounded on high, when all the elements joined together in lamentation and with trembling, because the blood of their creator had touched them. Anoint us for our weariness.

NB: You will see that there are no neumes in the manuscript for the final line of this chant. I have therefore taken an educated guess at what the melody could have been.

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This project is on SoundCloud