Hildegard von Bingen has the magical ability to reach out and speak to us across the centuries. In an age when most of the medieval art which has survived has done so anonymously, Hildegard seems to foreshadow modern notions of a composer. An avant-garde visionary of her day, the depth and range of her music lend themselves to modern re-imaginings.
Hugh Collins Rice’s Sequentiae Hildegardenses were written over a period of 12 years in collaboration with the ensemble Mediva. Hugh Collins Rice, a composer who has often been drawn to the ideas and techniques of early music, was inspired by Mediva’s medieval instruments, using a musical language which remains authentic and expressive in a 21st-century context, whilst also illuminating the 12th-century music of Hildegard. His music references the serene world of Hildegard's own compositions, but also reflects the darker strands in her writings.
Hugh Collins Rice was fascinated by the sonorities of Mediva’s instruments, which provide a palette of timbres unavailable on modern instruments. As he puts it, the “earthy expressiveness of shawms is a sound completely different from any of its modern successors. The small medieval harp has a very subtle range of colour, and the medieval fiddle has a naturally soft veiled tone. Together with recorders, a blended ensemble is achievable which sounds fresh and new.”
Mediva’s credo is to bring passion and life to music of the past. Featuring an international line-up of virtuoso performers educated at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Mediva has been a spontaneous, imaginative and successful group for over ten years, performing a range of music from the 12th to 15th centuries. Mediva’s concerts are full of energy, passion and joie de vivre, and the group has appeared in many of the major music festivals in the UK and on the continent.