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Who is Hildegard Von Bingen? by Guest Blogger Composer Chris Owenby
2016.04.22 01:21:40

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS (A QUICK GLANCE AT THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN AND HER INFLUENCE ON A COMPOSER’S MUSIC)

 

Light… at times, it only shimmers.  Like a warm ray peeking through the forest trees, it shimmers.  But it's there.  As the golden sun rises, all of its warmth and piercing rays overtake the cold and dark of the forest making visible the dark places and providing energy for life to thrive.

 

Hildegard von Bingen was a beacon of light in the darkness.  Her life and legacy have not only influenced the arts, but science, philosophy, and religion. 

 

As a woman living in the middle ages, her thoughts and ideas were not held in high esteem as those of her male counterparts.  The youngest of ten children, from an early age she demonstrated a high capacity for learning.  She began having visions of light.  Recognizing her unique gifts, her parents enrolled her in a Benedictine monastery.  In the convent, she learned to read and write and had access to a wide range of books of religious and philosophical nature. 

 

As she grew in physical and intellectual stature, she eventually became abbess of the convent and to the overwhelming critique of her Abbott, made preparations to move her convent so it would be separate from the rule of the male house.  Holding fast to her vision and not giving in to the surrounding pressures, she succeeded.

 

Hildegard continued to shine the light of her life in the darkest of places.  Toward the end of her life, she opposed the church and allowed a nobleman who had been excommunicated to be buried at her convent seeing to his last rites.  She endured overwhelming attacks from authorities for this decision, but eventually appealed to the higher church and was somewhat restored.

 

Many such accounts are a common feature of Hildegard’s life and work.  She is an inspiring figure.  Her poetry is fresh and bright, lending itself to musical interpretation. 

 

On May 14th, the DeKalb Choral Guild will premiere Three Short Poems of Hildegard von Bingen.  It is a bright and joyful work filled with lively rhythmic figures, memorable melodies, and simple, but compelling textures.    

 

My hope is the divine life and work of this brilliant mystic will shine forth in and through the music.  May light continue to shine in the darkest places.

 

Learn more about the inspiration and compositional process behind Three Short Poems of Hildegard von Bingen: http://theartfulcomposer.com/hildegard/


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Composer Chris Owenby lives in Atlanta with wife Erin and their two children Abby and Emma. When they are not spending time at the park or making crafts around the kitchen table Chris enjoys composing award winning songs, instrumental music and choral works that have been performed by the Goliad ensemble, The DeKalb Choral Guild and Terminus New Music Ensemble to name but a few. 




Tags: mystics | hildegard von bingen | choral music | christian mystic | the artful composer | DeKalb Choral Guild | atlanta community chorus

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