RECENT: Defining Our Field - what is 'classical music' to us, why are we involved and what can we learn from our differences? Read John Dante Prevedini's essay, watch the panel discussion and make your own comments.
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