Hildegard von Bingen performed by Oxford Camerata, directed by Jeremy Summerly

Hildegard von Bingen has enjoyed cult status since her ‘rediscovery’ 25 years ago. The tenth child of an aristocratic family, she entered a convent at the age of eight and spent the remainder of her eighty years as a nun and mystic, the latter half as abbess of her own convent.

Hildegard completed her great musico-poetic collection around the year 1150. Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum (Symphony of the Harmony of Heavenly Revelations) is a collection of 77 songs and one music drama. The subjects of these songs are an idiosyncratic collection of individuals and groups – the pieces included on this recording are variously addressed to the Creator, the Redeemer, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist, Apostles, Confessors, and Martyrs.

This music is performed by the celebrated Oxford Camerata, directed by Jeremy Summerly, whom Gramophone praised for his “fine judgment for tonal blending” and “excellent sense of pace.”

Oxford Camerata made its debut at the Maison Française in Oxford on May 22, 1984. The core group comprises 12 singers with or without keyboard accompaniment, but certain projects have involved as few as four singers and as many as 40. After hearing their performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in the Snape Maltings on Good Friday in 1986, Sir Peter Pears agreed to become the Oxford Camerata’s first patron. While Oxford Camerata was initially recognized specifically as an early music group, since the early 1990s it has expanded its repertory to include music from Gregorian chant to the present day. The Oxford Camerata Instrumental Ensemble, which uses modern instruments, was formed in 1992; the Oxford Camerata Baroque Orchestra was founded in 2007.

Jeremy Summerly has given concert tours throughout Europe and the United States as well as in Israel, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Botswana. He has conducted at the BBC Proms, the Berlin Philharmonie, and the Palestine Mozart Festival, and has performed Ligeti for Ligeti, Pärt for Pärt, and Kagel for Kagel. In 1995, he received a European Cultural Prize from the European Association for the Encouragement of the Arts in Basel, Switzerland, and in 2007 he was made an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London.