Connecting Heaven and Earth

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Fri 23Aug
Mon 26Aug

The Chant of Hildegard of Bingen

Facilitator: Emma Kirkby Dbe. & Caitlín Matthews

This course explores the life and chant of Benedictine abbess, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). On this singing Masterclass, which is open to all singers, Emma Kirkby will lead us in singing Hildegard’s sublime chant, which was written by the abbess for her nuns, and which follows its own unique patterns. Caitlín Matthews will help contextualize Hildegard’s life and work in its historical setting and open us to deeper contemplation of her mystical vision.

Event time: Fri 23rd Aug at 4:00pm - Mon 26th Aug at 2:00pm

At a Glance

  • Sing the chant of Hildegard of Bingen and understand her mystical vision.
  • Explore the mystical inscape of Hildegard’s spiritual world.

What participants will gain

  • Participate in the singing of Hildegard’s glorious chant.
  • Deepen your understanding of her mystical vision.

The Benedictine abbess, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was an extraordinary woman, a visionary whose written works covered healing, prophetic vision, the mystical and practical aspects of spiritual life, and the composition of a unique form of chant that is unparalleled in Western music. Hildegard’s deeply-grounded spirituality is now revealed as part of a uniquely respectful vision of the universe, where Christian and environmental values were not at odds. Emma Kirkby’s 1985 album with Gothic Voices, A Feather on the Breath of God, first introduced the world to Hildegard’s chant. On this singing masterclass, she will lead us in singing this sublime music. Hildegard’s chant reveals a dazzling vision of how heaven can be brought down to earth. Caitlín Matthews will help contextualize the medieval abbess’s life and work in its historical setting and open us to deeper contemplation of its mystical vision. All the singers are very welcome.

Price Options

£350 Non-Residential
£410 Residential Shared
£470 Residential Single


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Emma Kirkby Dbe.

Emma Kirkby Dbe. is one of the world’s most renowned Early Music performers, who has sung on over 100 recording, performing internationally.
Beginning as a schoolteacher and amateur singer, she was soon invited to perform professionally with pioneer groups; and long partnerships followed in Britain and abroad, with ensembles, individual players, and record companies, so that now Emma’s voice and style are recognized worldwide. She has been surprised but delighted by a series of honours, most recently a DBE and the Queen’s Medal for Music; these she sees as a welcome endorsement of a way of music-making that values ensemble, clarity and stillness over such things as volume and display.
Emma is excited to return to Hawkwood and to the music of Hildegard; particularly in the company of Caitlin Matthews, she expects to learn far more than she imparts!

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Caitlín Matthews

Caitlín Matthews is the author of 78 books, including Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, Celtic Devotional, and Singing the Soul Back Home. She is known internationally for her research into the Celtic, mythic, and western traditions, specializing in revealing the spiritual pathways that lead deeper into these traditions. She teaches spirituality and sacred singing internationally. Her poems and songs have been recorded or set by many artists and composers. Caitlín uses her voice these days more as a healing instrument in her shamanic practice in Oxford than for performance; as all her students know, no course passes without the soul-singing chant of spiritual reconnection that she draws out of the aether.

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"Kirkby has always put text on an equal footing with the music, and both of those before herself. In these matters both musical and personal she has never compromised the principles with which she started out. No wonder she’s one of the most respected and well-loved figures in the business." – Lindsay Kemp in the Gramophone

"For decades Emma Kirkby clear, agile voice has been the quintessence of pure sound in the singing of early music. She is still one of the treasures of the world of music." - Toronto Globe and Mail.