Schola Magdalena celebrated the Feast of Saint Hildegard tonight by singing a short concert before Evensong at St. Thomas’ Church, Huron Street, here in Toronto. I don’t know if my colleagues in this women’s ensemble have a similar experience, but for me it is pretty freaky to be singing music that was written by a woman living about a thousand years ago in a country several thousand miles away in a convent on a hillside vineyard by the Rhine river. Her musical language is really a universe away, and even if you could understand her Latin texts,  you would be mystified by her visceral imagery of human relationships and her colourful (green) view of science and the natural world, and her obsession with the phrygian mode. Yet her music gets through, and expresses something inexpressible.

I’d just like to say thank you to my friends in the Schola for their beautiful singing and (I am sure of it) the healing power that music can have when sung with sincerity, skill and understanding.

Happy birthday, Hildegard.

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One Response to Hildegard

  1. Julia Armstrong says:

    To echo what you said, Steph – yes, it’s always a blessing and privilege to sing Hildegard with Schola Magdalena. It’s hard work to get one of her pieces to performance level initially, but then when we have it, it’s locked in and just seems to pour out of us. I find it amazing. I read that she’s being made a Doctor of the Church on October 7, a title given to saints “who theological teaching is valid for all time.” As you point out, her musical language is a universe away and yet still expresses something relevant “for all time” and that never fails to move our listeners.

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