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Ongoing Projects

Singing Hildegard von Bingen

Music was a central part of Hildegard’s life – she considered it to be a foretaste of paradise. This project concentrates on examples of her 77 liturgical chants, which we 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 might benefit from these workshops?

Many different kinds of singers 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. We discover the language of the notation together.

Scivias vision 13, image 35: the choirs of the blessed

Hildegard von Bingen was a firm believer in the power of music. She spoke of the harmony in our souls and believed that music reminds us of paradise. Now, some 850 years later, her magnificent melodies and vivid, imaginative texts can still touch us deeply.

I offer tailor-made workshops intended for singers who wish to better understand the musical language of Hildegard’s chants so as to be able to experience and transmit the full force of this rich repertoire. Through fun, creative exercises, I introduce my participants to two 12th century manuscripts that were produced during or shortly after her death. This opens up a wealth of information that, though largely lost in modern editions, is invaluable when bringing this music to life. We explore tuning and resonance, and we look at how best to use your voice and body when singing this music.

I offer this workshop in Dutch, French and English and in a variety of different formats. It is suitable for both professional and amateur singers. If you are part of a group singing Hildegard together, the workshop can take the form of a coaching session for the group. Contact me at penelope.turner(at) for more information.

Previous Projects

Oct 2023 – May 2024

Brussels Cathedral Project

I had the great pleasure to lead a series of workshops in the Chapel of Our Lady of Deliverance in the Brussels Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral. The workshops focused on singing Hildegard von Bingen from the original 12th century notation – the graphics helping us to find a freedom and direction that can remain elusive when using modern editions.

Thanks to the multifaceted achievements of this amazing medieval magistra, the series was attended by Hildegard enthusiasts from all sorts of disciplines: dancers, healing practitioners, performance artists, musicians, the spiritually curious – what a wonderful mix of talents and perspectives!

After eight workshops, we came together for a final performance during the Cathedral’s mini Hildegard festival (May 24th-26th), when we sang in the 11:00 mass on Sunday May 26th. Surrounded and supported by two superb exhibitions (they can be visited until the end of June 2024), Hildegard’s spirit was with us as we sang. I was deeply impressed by the work and enthusiasm of the group – and immensely proud that they could all understand and sing from the original notation by the end of the process.

Here are some nice visual reminders of our workshop moments together. A big thank you to all the participants, and to the Brussels Cathedral for hosting us – and in particular to Xavier Deprez for his vision and support.


De expressieve en vernieuwende kracht van muziek

Workshop and weekend retreat featuring the music and language of Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179). Ut Sol (Penelope Turner and Jos Somsen) at the St. Dominicanenklooster Huissen, Stadsdam 1, 6851 AH Huissen, NL. More information here.

2016 – 2020

‘Médiations Culturels’ with the medieval vocal ensemble La Noeva for the Philharmonique de Namur, for example: Christmas concert for the staff of the Hénellux (Haute Ecole de Namur, Liège et Luxembourg) on December 19, 2019.

Workshops inspired by Hildegard von Bingen, for example: in collaboration with Mora Vocis at the Kapellen culturel centre, Kasattenhoven on December 14, 2019.


ReMuA : the Réseau de Musiciens Intervenants en Ateliers

Musique en Action

Concert at the BOZAR in April 2014. Preparing and leading a choir made up of two schools (one French-speaking, one Dutch-speaking) in a mostly classical programme. Supported by members of the Orchestre National de Belgique.

Choeurs à l’Ecole

Following on from Etoiles et Voix (mentioned below), Choeurs à l’Ecole is a project involving Brussels primary schools. The project is inclusive – all pupils attend the classes. It provides a wonderful experience for children whose musical education may otherwise be limited. As well as training the voice and musical ear, the children are exposed to a form of discipline and group-based work that is of great value in their general development. The classes are also good fun!

Concerts given within this project have been attended by Princess Mathilde and Queen Paola.


ReMuA : the Réseau de Musiciens Intervenants en Ateliers

Etoiles et Voix.

Throughout the school year 2007 – 2008 a team of five professional singers worked to strengthen music education in Brussels’ primary schools.

Etoiles et Voix was an ambitious and imaginative project that ran alongside the Queen Elisabeth Competition for Voice.  It involved 1738 pupils in 9 French-speaking primary schools in Brussels; I was the ‘adopted’ singer for Saint Henri, Woluwe, and Sainte-Marie St. Gilles.

A central idea behind Etoiles et Voix was to introduce primary school children to opera, and in particular to the repertory being sung during the Queen Elisabeth Competition.  Phase I of the project saw the children tackling works by composers such as Mozart, Bizet and Offenbach, in specially adapted arrangements.

In Phase II of the project we led one class of each school through the process of writing their own songs – a major creative effort which resulted in some excellent new works.

The project culminated in two concerts given in the Théâtre Marni, Ixelles, and the Maison du Peuple, St Gilles, in April and May.

Etoiles et Voix was a huge undertaking for everyone involved and demanded a great investment of time and energy from both the pupils and teachers.  For me the results clearly reflect that effort.  I was impressed with the obvious improvement, notably in listening and tone pitching, by the end of the project.

Photos by  R. Noviello