VIDEO PODCAST: Women Composers - Our special hour-long illustrated feature on women composers includes contributions from Diana Ambache, Gail Wein, Hilary Tann, Natalie Artemas-Polak and Victoria Bond.
The German abbess, mystic, visionary, monastic leader, healer, teacher and composer Hildegard von Bingen was born in Bernersheim on 16 September 1098. Born as a sickly tenth child to a noble family, she was dedicated at birth to the church, and sent away aged eight to receive a religious education.
Her music, mostly liturgical plainchant, and created to be performed by the nuns in her convent, was very important to her - she saw it as the means to recapture the beauty and joy of paradise. About eighty works survive, including the well-known Ordo Virtutum, a kind of early oratorio on the subject of the struggle of a human soul between sixteen virtues and one male voice part, representing the devil.
Hildegard was a surprisingly powerful lady for her time, travelling, speaking in public and communicating with emperors, popes and statesmen. She died in Rupertsberg on 17 September 1179, aged 81.
CD Spotlight. A Tradition Still Alive - Gerald Fenech listens to Advent carols from King's College London. 'A hugely beautiful issue, full of inspiring singing and emotional joy, performed with fine control, impressive depth of tone and a dynamic range that commands one's admiration from start to finish.'
Ensemble. On the High and Open Sea - Giuseppe Pennisi samples Italy's 2019 Ravenna Summer Festival
Ensemble. Bouncy Vitality - The Sitwell Singers' Christmas concert, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Something Transcendent - Music performed by A Far Cry, heard by Howard Smith. '... evidently capable hands ...'
CD Spotlight. An Attractive Simplicity - Choral music by Margaret Rizza, heard by Patric Standford. '... appealing choral textures ...'
Ensemble. Joy for the Soul - Giuseppe Pennisi visits Sagra Musicale Umbra
Ensemble. A Thunderous Send Off - John Adams and Peter Sellars' 'The Gospel According to the Other Mary' begins a European tour, and impresses Maria Nockin
CD Spotlight. Precision and Purity - Recordings from Estonia, reviewed by Rex Harley