Singing Study Group on St. Hildegard von Bingen

Her music and significance in our modern lives

by Karen Clark

640px-Hildegard_von_BingenThis summer I offer a series of three Saturday afternoon sessions—July 12 and 26, and August 2, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.—that focus on the life and music of Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179).

Over the course of these several weeks, I encourage participants to spend time singing Hildegard’s music, studying her texts, and journaling. Our in class discussions will explore Hildegard’s writings on medicine, theology, and music and seek to find deeper understanding of her life. For, how is it that this beloved medieval Sybil of the Rhine continues to inspire and empower our modern lives? Even if you’ve never tried to sing Hildegard’s music, I invite you to begin!

Though not a requirement, it is recommended that you attend the entire series. Following is a brief outline of the topics we will cover.

Saturday, July 12: Introduction to Hildegard’s life and education at Disibodenberg. Learn to sing one (or two) of Hildegard’s antiphons by rote, discuss the text, and introduce the neumatic notation from her original manuscript. The Awareness Through Movement lesson will be about improving our capacity to breathe.

Saturday, July 26: Readings from Hildegard’s Scivias (Know the Ways of God), the book wherein Hildegard first began to write of her visions at age 43. We will sing the antiphons learned in class one, and learn a new one. The Awareness Through Movement lesson will focus on elegant movement.

Karen Clark cropSaturday, August 2: This class will focus on the later years of Hildegard’s life and will include readings from the works of modern writers Victoria Sweet, and Avis Clendenen, and others. An Awareness Through Movement lesson will focus on comfort in standing. The last hour of the class will be an in-class program featuring sung antiphons of Hildegard and readings from Hildegard, or other authors—including essays by class participants.

For me, this series of classes is the beginning of something larger that I have longed to create. I hope you can join me for this “maiden voyage” and will appreciate your participation and contribution to creating a meaningful educational experience together.

All sessions will be held at the Shawl-Anderson Dance Studios, 2704 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley. Tuition is $75 per class or $200 tuition for the series ($180 if you register by July 1). For more information or to register contact Karen at

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Written by Jonathan Harris