A Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations
Stevie Wishart, Sinfonye & The Oxford Girls' Choir
Celestial Harmonies, 13127-2
- Favus distillans (Dripping honeycomb)
- Et ideo puelle iste: Et ideo puelle (Ursula's virgins)
- O tu illustrata (O you who are illumined)
- O vos angeli (O you angels)
- Studium divinitatis (Zeal of divinity)
- O ignes spiritus (O fiery spirit)
- O rubor sanguinis (Red river falling)
- O orzchis ecclesia
- O gloriosissimi lux vivens angeli (Living-light angels)
- Rex noster promptus est (Our king is swift)
- Deus enim in prima muliere (The first woman)
- De patria (From their homeland) Sinfonye
- Sed diabolus in invidia (But the devil mocked)
- Nunc gaudeant materna viscera ecclesia (Song to Ecclesia)
This first of four volumes of The Complete Hildegard von Bingen collection introduces listeners to a remarkable woman ahead of her time. 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. Hildegard's religious education, which began at the age of eight, consisted of an ascetic life of prayer and contemplation. 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. At 38, she became the head of a vibrant convent where later her musical plays were performed. 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.
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.
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 and Australia. 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.
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.