I am very happy to be able to tell you that on November 6th we will be back in the lovely Highgate School chapel for a concert by the acapella trio Voice – Emily Burn, Victoria Couper, and Clemmie Franks – performing the works of Hildegard of Bingen and songs ‘of love and joy’ from 14th century courtly composers. What a perfect setting….
6.30pm Saturday November 6th – Highgate School Chapel –
Tickets £20 – Book your tickets here
For those of you who don’t know her work, Hildegard was German Benedictine abbess who died in 1179 aged 81. She was mystic who, from the age of three, had visions of what she described as The Shade of the Living Light. To quote Joshua Mark in his really interesting assessment of her life in the World History Encyclopedia:
Hildegard’s vision is all-encompassing in scope, far transcending the common vision of the medieval Church while still remaining within the bounds of orthodoxy. She claimed the Divine was as female in spirit as male and that both these elements were essential for wholeness. Her concept of Viriditas elevated the natural world from the Church’s view of a fallen realm of Satan to an expression and extension of the Divine. God was revealed in nature, and the grass, flowers, trees, and animals bore witness to the Divine simply by their existence.
….she also believed that, prior to the Fall of Man, God was worshipped by celestial song which, after the Fall, was approximated by music as humans now heard and understood it. Music, then, was the best expression of one’s love for, devotion to, and worship of God.
In an extraordinarily productive life, apart from caring for her nuns and doing battle with many of the local church authorities, she compiled three large volumes of her visions, wrote widely on both medicine and botany, basing her writings on her experience helping in and then leading the monastery’s herbal garden and infirmary, composed nearly 80 songs and a liturgical drama or morality play and carried on a prodigious correspondence with all the great and the good in the Europe of her time.
Voice will be performing five of Hildegard’s compositions for us – see below – and you can get a little foretaste from this short video on You Tube. (Think how much better that is going to sound in the chapel!)
The programme will also include songs by five of the French and Italian courtly composers who came after her.
6.30pm Saturday November 6th – Highgate School Chapel – Tickets £20 –
Book your tickets here
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Caritas habundat (‘Love abounds’) – Psalm antiphon for the Holy Spirit as Divine Love
O Clarissima Mater – Responsory for the Virgin
Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377)
Je sui aussi – a ballade
Puis qu’en oubli and Doulz viaire gracieus – two songs in rondeau form.
Machaut was a master of the musical style known as Ars Nova. The subject matter of his lyric poetry was primarily the theme of “courtly love” and the exploration of the poet’s feelings of pain and pleasure in this heightened state of unattainable desire.
Francesco Landini – L’alma mia piange – an Italian ballata and another expression of courtly love, where emotions remain unrequited.
Jacopo de Bologna (c.1340-1386)
Aquila Altera – this madrigal is thought to have been written for a wedding or coronation ceremony.
Anon – Onques ne fut – France (14th C)
Johannes Valliant – Par maintes foy – one of the most popular works of the time.
Anon – S’on me regarde/Prennés i garde/HÉ MI ENFANT – France (13th C)
Anon., France (13th C) arr. Emily Burn for Voice – Bien m’ont Amours entrepris
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
O Virtus Sapientiae (‘O energy of wisdom’)
Favus distillans, literally ‘dripping honeycomb’
Nunc Gaudeant arr. Voice – Votive Antiphon for the Dedication of a Church
Voice: Emily Burn, Victoria Couper, Clemmie Franks
Voice is an exciting, female vocal trio. In their fourteen years together they have built a dedicated fan-base across the world; a rich, varied repertoire of their own arrangements, new commissions, and rarely performed Early Music. Victoria, Clemmie, and Emily first began singing together in Oxford as members of the Oxford Girls’ Choir, before going on to form the trio in 2006 as well as forging their own successful, diverse careers.
Voice’s interest in Early Music can be traced back to their performances and recordings of the medieval chant of St Hildegard of Bingen, which they learned as members of Stevie Wishart’s group, Sinfonye. The singers still perform with Sinfonye today and as a trio, Voice continues to perform Hildegard’s music and have commissioned new works inspired by her words and chant.
The trio has released two albums, Musical Harmony (2013) “…a stunning body of work destined to prick up the hairs on the back of one’s neck” Tim Hughes (Oxford Times & Mail) and Patterns of Love (2015), which features four commissions by British female composers, made possible with Arts Council England funding.
In 2021 Voice launched a new exciting collaborative programme, ‘Hildegard Transfigured: a medieval trance for the 21st Century’, with psychedelic visual artist Innerstrings and composer Laura Moody, supported by Help Musicians Fusion Fund. Voice will release an album of this programme on SOMM Records in 2022.