Imaginative take on abbess’s last hours is a special musical experience

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Clare Norburn’s creation The Vision: The Imagined Testimony of Hildegard von Bingen aims to give insight into the painful visionary experiences of the medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen, writes Mavis Kirkham.

The concert-play is an ‘imagined testimony’ at the end of Hildegard’s life when she revisits episodes from her past.

The narration, powerfully conveyed by Jan Chappell, is drawn from Hildegard’s own writing.

Hildegard’s music is characterised by soaring harmonies which push the boundaries’ monastic chant. These soaring harmonies were beautifully sung by Clare Norburn, soprano, and Ariane Prusser, mezzo.

Jean Chappell played the harp and the musical echoes between the voices and the harp were exciting and expressive.

With candlelight, delightful harp playing and voices processing round St John’s Church, Buxton, this was a really special musical experience.