February 6, 2019
The Big Pond #14: St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard of Bingen was a twelfth-century German nun – a writer, composer of chants, mystic and visionary. You might be asking yourself, “What on earth does a twelfth-century nun have to do with life today? What does medieval chanting have to do with music today?” It turns out, a lot.

She was one of only four women to be named a Doctor of the Church, a title granted by the Catholic Church to people who have significantly contributed to theology and doctrine. Today she is best remembered for her music, her wildly strange and beautiful chants, and for her musical morality play, Ordo Virtutum.

To learn more about Hildegard’s place in our modern world, our producer Katie Marquette visits the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where medieval music and chant are still being studied and performed today. She talks to the musicologist Susan Weiss, who tells her about the way her students connect to Hildegard, and to Peabody alumna Sarah Berger, who recounts her experience of performing Ordo Virtutum in 1998.

The song “O virga ac diadema” by Hildegard von Bingen is performed by Oxford Camerata and licensed from Naxos licensing, 2019.

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