Today we’re hobnobbing with about 200 people, exploring the phenomenal medieval mystic, poet, musician, scientists, biologist and nun, Hildegard of Bingen.
It’s an unusual venue for liturgical chant from the middle ages – we’ll be performing at the Revue Cinema, one of the last great neighbourhood theatres in Toronto.
Schola Magdalena will sing some of Hildegard’s music, we’ll watch a new documentary on her life, and then afterwards, we’ll talk with some scholars who have been seriously engaged with analyzing her manuscripts and her life.
Reading through Hildegard’s poetry this morning I am reminded of her boundless creativity and the freshness of her words. Sometimes, just slogging through musical rehearsals, getting our pitch perfect, sorting out cadences and rhythmic unison, and how we will “improvise” drones and organum, we forget to step back and experience the richness of the text.
Hildegard rejoices in the greenness of creation, marvels at the order of the universe, revels in the senses. Her music is flamboyant, going way beyond the restricted vocal range of Gregorian chant, soaring to the heights and digging in to the depths of the possibilities of the female voice. Schola Magdalena is pretty comfortable singing Hildegard after 8 years, but we always have to be on our musical toes, especially in an unfamiliar acoustic, for a new audience.
After today we will start work on our next project; to re-invent “Compline in honour of Saint Crispin,” on Saint Crispin’s Day, Oct 25th, on the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt.
This event will also bring together some scholars, and some singers will join us from a cathedral choir in England, just to give it an authentic touch. And there are rumours that the ghost of Henry V may make an appearance as well.
Singing historical music gives us unique opportunities to bring together a lot of people with diverse skills and interests.
It’s nice to find folks that are also interested in strange old things.