Hildegard was such a unique figure that her life stands out, even though she lived in a distant time. Born in the year 1098, she grew up in a medieval society in which few women learned to read. But she became an accomplished writer and advisor to popes and kings. (music, rising) What’s more, she was one of the first composers we know by name, and her visionary music is so remarkably beautiful that it can stop us in our tracks, even today.
Chanticleer’s new piece about Hildegard is partly a concert, and exquisitely sung, as you’d expect from Chanticleer. But it also features candles, handbells, costumes, spoken dialog, and staged scenes that mix storytelling into the music. The plot, more frame than focus, involves twelve cardinals gathering to discuss whether Hildegard should be made a saint. The music ranges from plainchant to Palestrina to our own time, with four selections by Hildegard herself. It’s more contemplative than a play, but more theatrical than a concert… In any case, it’s well worth seeing. Chanticleer gives a performance Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. Francis Church, on 26th St. in Sacramento. Jeff Hudson, KXJZ News.