directed by stevie wishart
the complete hildegard von bingen
SYMPHONY OF THE HARMONY OF CELESTIAL REVELATIONS
O NOBILISSIMA VIRIDITAS
Die Symphonia. Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations. Vol. I' wurde 1995 in der Toddington Church im englischen Gloucestershire zusammen mit dem 'Oxford Girls Choir' aufgenommen und ein Jahr später als CD veröffentlicht. Es ist die bisher achte CD des Frauentrios. Die 14 Gesänge bestehen meist aus einer einstimmigen melodischen Linie, die sich in 'O Vos Angeli' buchstäblich in höchste Engels-Gefilde emporschwingt. Der für die damalige Zeit ebenfalls ungewöhnliche dreistimmige Satz - etwa in dem 'Nunc gaudeant materna...' klingt in seiner durchdringenden Klarheit ähnlich wie der Gesang des berühmten bulgarischen Frauenchores. Diesen ersten Teil der Gesänge, dem drei weitere folgen sollen, führte Sinfonye in multimedialen Konzerten auf, u.a. in der Londoner Queen Elizabeth Hall. Die Lieder wechselten mit Lesungen aus Hildegards visionären Schriften, die psychedelisch anmutenden Illustrationen der Äbtissin erschienen großflächig über Diaprojektor an den Wänden.
Für ihre Nonnen komponierte Hildegard (1098-1179), visionäre Äbtissin, 77 liturgische Gesänge, deren Tonumfang und melodischer Verlauf den Rahmen der damals gängigen Gregorianik sprengten. Das australische Ensemble Sinfonye (Stevie Wishart, Jocelyn West und Vivien Ellis) singt (wieder mit Mitgliedern des Oxforder Mädchenchores) weitere 15 Lieder des Zyklus, den Hildegard als "Symphonie der Harmonie der Himmlischen Offenbarungen" betitelte. Der Solo- und Chorgesang entfaltet sich wie eine Zauberblume mit überirdisch anmutender Leuchtkraft.
Die neue CD mit dem Titel "O nobilissima viriditas" (ch 3129-2) ist einer besonders wichtigen und bedeutungsvollen Facette ihres Denkens und Schaffens gewidmet: Die "viriditas", die grünende Lebenskraft, die in der Vorstellungswelt Hildegards allem Lebendigen zugrunde liegt, eine Urkraft Gottes, die seine Schöpfung immer wieder neu aufleuchten läßt, wurde zu einem Kerngedanken in ihrem Werk und inspirierte sie zu einigen ihrer intensivsten und leidenschaftlichsten Liedtexte und kompositionen. Ihre lateinischen Texte sind dabei von einer vitalen, sehr lebensnahen Metaphorik erfüllt — mit sich überlagernden Themen wie Natur und Dynamik, Wachstum und Erblühen, Vitalität und Tugend. Diese Einspielung ist die musikalische Antwort auf Hildegards Vorstellung einer spirituellen Urquelle allen Lebens.
Sinfonye, founded in 1987 by Stevie Wishart, and joined by Vivien Ellis and Jocelyn West, was conceived as an ensemble combining improvisatory skills derived from traditional music with performance practices recreated from historical research, with a particular interest in repertories sung, inspired or composed by women. Since its conception, Sinfonye has performed throughout Europe, North America, and Australia, and their recordings have been acclaimed for their innovative approach to the medieval repertory. In addition to their group work, the members also maintain active solo careers.
Stevie Wishart developed her musical studies at the University of York, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and, with a Vicente Catilde;ada Blanch Fellowship, at New College, Oxford, where she is completing a D.Phil on medieval bowed instruments. Considering the distance from the 12th century to the present, Ms. Wishart's music maintains authenticity.
Vivien Ellis, singer and voice workshop leader, joined Sinfonye in 1989. Her research into the roots of singing in Europe have taken her to Bulgaria, France, Spain, and most recently, Corsica. Jocelyn West, playing fiddle since the age of six, studied with Suzanne Rozsa at the Purcell School of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. Hester Briant, Vickie Couper, Fiona Cunningham, Tara Franks, Emily Levy, Julie Murphy, and Lucy Steele, members of The Oxford Girls Choir, join Sinfonye for this celestial celebration.
Writes Stevie Wishart: "We welcome this opportunity to record the complete works of Hildegard and to recreate the imaginative spirit of this remarkable composer. For Hildegard, it seems music was a way for mortals to experience something of heavenly, or spiritual ecstasy, and it is perhaps this desire which we can most clearly empathize with today. Hers is a creative spirit which soars high, as much in our time as in her own."
The first volumes of The Complete Hildegard von Bingen collection, Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations, introduces listeners to a remarkable woman ahead of her time, Hildegard von Bingen. Recorded in the nineteenth century church at Toddington, a tiny village in the countryside of Gloucestershire in western England, Sinfonye recreates the imaginative spirit of this exceptional composer. Hildegard is known for her hymns, anthems and sequences honoring saints, virgins and Mary, and Sinfonye delivers an unforgettable celebration of these praises and metaphorical writings in the plainchant tradition — a single vocal melodic line — a tradition common in liturgical singing of her time.
The second volume of the collection, Aurora, freely gathers songs inspired by the young saint Ursula, the Virgin Mary, and the expressive spirituality of Hildegard's nuns. Perhaps these unique and difficult songs were composed specially for her nuns as a more personal expression of their devotional life rather than for use in church. The volume ends with O pater omnium, which is more sombre than the exultant love lyrics of the virgins as brides of Christ. Here the language of love is more devout, its melody more poignant and the songs create a spiritual atmosphere that lingers beyond the distance of centuries.
O nobilissima viriditas is the third volume of The Complete Hildegard von Bingen. Viriditas was to inspire some of Hildegard's most imaginative and passionate song poetry and music. Her lyrics are all in Latin and they abound with images from nature, using leaves, branches and flowers to communicate overlapping themes of energy, vigour, blooming, manhood, virginity and virtue. his recording is a musical response to the concept of viriditas — songs celebrating the greenness so fundamental to Hildegard' music as the vigour or source of life.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was born the tenth child to a noble family and was dedicated at birth to the church. At age three she began to have visions of luminous objects, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and kept these visions secret for many years.
In 1106 at age eight Hildegard was entrusted to Jutta of Spondheim's convent which was attached to the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg on the mountain of St. Disibod. Her religious education, which began at the age of eight, consisted of an ascetic life of prayer and contemplation. After Jutta's death in 1136, Hildegard became abbess and she subsequently established her own convent on the Rupertsberg near Bingen in the late 1140s.
Although she had had visions since childhood, it was only after 1141, following a divine call, that she dedicated herself to document her visions in the book Scivias. During her mature life she produced a prolific and varied range of writings, including two more books of visions, and she continued to compose the music and the poetry of her songs.
Music was extremely important to Hildegard as she considered it a way for mortals to experience heavenly, or spiritual ecstasy. According to Hildegard, before the Fall of Man, Adam had a pure voice and joined the angels in singing praises to God. After the Fall, music was invented and musical instruments were made in order to worship God appropriately. Perhaps this best explains why Hildegard's music most often sounds like what we imagine angels singing to be like.
Virgins and widows represent the two groups of women in Hildegard's community. Images of aurora or dawn appear in many of Hildegard's songs as metaphors for the Virgin Mary and is implicit as the inner and outer energy in all virgins. The songs are a celebration of virginity, but also would have been part of the general medieval belief that music had its own spiritual power, and that given the right conditions, could be heavenly. It was the music of virgins that Hildegard heard as celestial harmony.
At a time when few women were accorded respect, she lived to become a highly respected writer, poet, composer and visionary sought after for her counsel by bishops, popes and kings.
O most noble greenness, you whose roots are in the sun and who shine in bright serenity in a wheel that no earthly eminence can comprehend.
Honey and Milk Beneath Her Tongue
(Dripping Honeycomb - Favus distillans)
Ursula's Virgins (et ideo puelle)
The Devil's Suggestion (O You Who Are Illumined - o tu illustrata)
Place of the Ancient Heart (O You Angels - o vos angeli)
Zeal of Divinity (studium divinitatis)
O Fiery Spirit (o ignis spiritus)
Red River Falling (o rubor sanguinis)
o orzchis ecclesia
Living-Light Angels (o gloriosissimi lux vivens angeli)
The Clouds Are Grieving (our king is swift - rex noster promptus est)
The First Woman (deus enim in prima muliere)
From Their Homeland (de patria)
But The Devil Mocked (sed diabolus in invidia)
Song to Ecclesia (nunc gaudeant materna viscera ecclesia)
From Wherever They Came (Unde quocumque venientes)
O Leafy Branch (O frondens virga)
O How Precious (O quam preciosa)
Because It Was A Woman (Quia ergo femina)
Divine Love Abounds (Caritas habundat)
O Great Wonder (o quam magnum)
Hail, Noble One (Ave generosa)
O Branch and Crown (O virga ac diadema)
So God Watered Them With Dew (Deus enim rorem in illas misit)
O Energy of Wisdom (O virtus Sapientie)
O sweetest lover (O dulcissime amator)
While the Craft of God's Finger (Cum processit factura digiti Dei)
O Father of all (O Pater omnium)
O blessed infancy (O beata infantia)
A dove gazed in (Columba aspexit)
O most noble greenness (O nobilissima viriditas)
O cohort of the army of the flower (O cohors millicie floris virge)
O greenest branch hail (O viridissima virga)
Today opened to us (Hodie aperuit nobis)
O successors of the mightiest lion (O successores fortissimi leonis)
O successores (instrumental)
O mirror of the dove (O speculum columbe)
O prelate of the true city (O presul vere civitatis)
O marvellous miracle (O mirum admirandum)
O you fertile roots (O vos felices radices)
Mathias a saint by grace (Mathias sanctus per electionem)