Totnes Early Music Society (TEMS) presents:
Vision: The Imagined Testimony of Hildegard von Bingen – A Concert Play by Clare Norburn
Saturday March 23 in St Mary’s Church, Totnes, at 7.30pm
The latest slot in the Totnes Early Music Society (TEMS) concert series is not just ‘early’ music, but even by usual standards, presents music heard a good few centuries earlier than the norm. TEMS Chairperson Jill Tomalin explains:
Hildegard of Bingen was born in about 1098 and died on 17th September 1179. She was a German Benedictine abbess, best known now as a Christian visionary and composer of beautiful mystical and compelling chants. But she was also a writer and philosopher, who during her long life wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, songs and poems. It has been suggested that one of her works can be considered the oldest surviving morality play.
Totnes Early Music Society has long wanted to feature the extraordinary music of this early composer, and grabbed the chance to bring Clare Norburn’sconcert/play Vision to Totnes when it was offered. Here at last is a top-quality opportunity to hear Hildegard’s mesmeric chants in the beautiful candle-lit setting of St Mary’s church in Totnes, and woven around the drama of the play.
Vision aims to give an insight into the painful visionary experiences Hildegard suffered throughout her life, covering some of the core emotional moments in her life. While the script is grounded in research , Clare has said that she was actually more interested in exploring how Hildegard experienced those moments. So Vision asks what it felt like for Hildegard to be taken away from her family at the age of eight, and how did she experience the visions which she referred to as ‘the Living Light’? And how did it feel to have so much responsibility in an age when women were generally powerless and silent?
Vision features Teresa Banham as Hildegard. She has appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in productions at The Royal Exchange, Theatre Royal Bath, Hampstead Theatre, and Shakespeare’s Globe. Her TV appearances include Dr Who, Call the Midwife, The Crown (series 3), Waking the Dead andSilent Witness. Experienced musicians, singer Ariane Prüssner and medieval harp player Leah Stuttard join Clare to perform the music of Hildegard of Bingen.
The Director is Nick Renton, who has worked in theatre, TV and film, including Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Mrs Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, and films Little White Lie, followed by When Harvey Met Bob with Domhnall Gleeson and Ian Hart. The lighting has been designed by Natalie Rowland.
Tickets (in advance) cost £13, and are available from the Dartington Box Office (01803 847070) and website, at www.dartington.org/whats-on, with tickets for under 18s at £5. Tickets on the (door at St Mary’s) will be £14/£5 respectively.
Philip R Buttall