"Mystical Voices of Medieval Germany"
Tuesday, January 28, 7:30 PM
One of the world’s most respected and innovative ensembles for medieval music, Sequentia is dedicated to the performance and recording of Western European music from the period before 1300. Their virtuosic performances are compelling, surprising in their immediacy, and strike the listener with a timeless emotional connection to our own past musical cultures.
Sequentia has released over 30 award-winning recordings. Their best-selling CD, Canticles of Ecstasy, featuring music by Hildegard von Bingen, has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide and was nominated for a Grammy Award as best choral recording.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) – the name evokes many images: the medieval Benedictine abbess and mystic from the Rhineland; the renowned healer and natural scientist; the passionate and celebrated witness to the power of divinity as manifested in countless visions of extraordinary vividness; the modern ‘new-age’ and feminist icon who inspired countless books, and performances; a woman of noble birth and immense courage, who was not intimidated by the male hierarchy of the 12th century church, who fought for the rights of her convent, and corresponded freely, giving advice to prelates, kings, queens, and emperors.
Sequentia's program explores this unique mystical voice from medieval Germany, with special emphasis on her spiritual songs celebrating the celestial hierarchy of the saints, angels, prophets and patriarchs, apostles and martyrs, figures who peopled the contemplative universe of Hildegard and her Benedictine sisters. In addition, Sequentia performs pieces which were not written by Hildegard, but which come from nearby 12th-century German convents. Instrumental pieces based on Hildegard's melodies provide moments of reflection and rest for the vocalists.
Samples from Sequentia's 2013 CD Hildegard von Bingen: Celestial Heirarchy
"Sequentia ranks among the noblest and most active of the very-early-music performing groups. What I admire most about them is their willingness to apply a certain amount of contemporary imagination to the objects of their exhumations, their assumption of the license to fill in between the dots in ancient manuscripts when necessary. Their work trumpets the belief, in other words, that oldness doesn't have to mean dullness. — LA Weekly
"The female members of Sequentia prove themselves fully able to tackle the very real technical difficulties presented by the music ... their breath control is quite remarkable and enables them to give real shape and meaning to the music. Their vocal quality is very much what I would like to think Hildegard herself would have expected to hear from her own community of nuns firm, unwavering, exultant. ...Very highly recommended." — Gramophone (London)
"This Cologne-based medieval-music ensemble adapts its performing forces to the repertoire at hand, which it performs with both scholarly insight and dramatic verve." — The New Yorker
"The result is as convincing as it is enchanting. Sequentia does not shy away from virtuosity ... This wasn't soulless chanting, this was singing, in clear, effortlessly resonant voices that sent an electric charge through the chapel's vast well of air. The words blossomed in the air as they rose from the mouths of the singers. As they did, time stood still and a thousand years of music melted away." — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel