O ETERNE DEUS - MUSIC OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN. VAJRA VOICES

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In their stunning debut recording, the women's vocal ensemble, Vajra Voices, directed by contralto Karen R. Clark, performs works by the German Benedictine abbess and mystic, Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179). Joined by multi-instrumentalist, Shira Kammen, Vajra Voices presents performances of passion, radiance, strength and depth.


   Reviews


"One cannot help but be deeply moved by the exquisite rendition of Hildegard's music by Vajra Voices.  Their singing brings Hildegard into the room with all her passion and power and the Spirit arrives too along with angels eager to wake us up. “ 


–– Matthew Fox, author of HILDEGARD OF BINGEN: A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century, ILLUMINATIONS OF HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, and Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works: With Letters and Songs.


“The chant melodies, rendered here with heartfelt elegance by the women’s chorus Vajra Voices under the direction of Karen R. Clark, are striking in both their shapeliness and the spiritual fervor that runs through them.”


— Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 2016


“The Vajra Voices, 7 in all, are a Berkeley-based all-female group who have Hildegard’s music at the centre of their repertory. Their strengths, apart from beautiful voices, include precise articulation and the confidence to be simple in expression. Voices blend beautifully, and Karen R Clark has a contralto well-suited to the spiritual depths of the music – a truly splendid voice.


 Listen either to the opening or the final pages, and one is touched by a depth and beauty.


All in all, this recording belongs with the very best Hildegard collections, one for late night reflectiveness.”


— Michael Wilkinson, MusicWeb International, July 26, 2016


"...Vajra Voices, under the direction of Karen R. Clark, offers a very fine survey of nearly every genre of chant represented in Hildegard’s repertory—antiphons, responsories, hymns, and sequences. Clark herself has a beautiful voice that shows flexibility and nuance through the very broad range that Hildegard covers in her chants. Her performance of the antiphon ‘O Quam Magnum Miraculum Est’ to Shira Kammen’s vielle accompaniment is gorgeous."


—Peter Loewen, American Record Guide, September/October 2016


"The seven women of Vajra Voices – richly voiced, contrasted individuals who shine as soloists or conspire without egotism in vivid, full-blooded ensemble – sing out with tremendous intensity. Led by the wide emotional spectrum of Karen R. Clark’s contralto, the shimmering resonance of their elegantly paced performances with entirely credible phrasing and selection of note lengths, coloured at times by instrumental accompaniment, vocal drones, and oganum (sparing and tasteful), is delightful. Lovely, thoughtful, and inspiring instrumentals adorn this, the most convincing Hildegard disc I’ve yet heard from the USA."


Rebecca Tavener, Choir & Organ, September/October 2016


 "A special vocal group is required to do justice to Hildegard’s music, and we have it here in Vajra Voices, an ensemble of seven women dedicated to mediaeval and modern music “in a singing style inspired by Hildegard von Bingen that is clear, sweet and strong”. The group’s name comes from the Sanskrit word for strength of spirit “as symbolized by the thunderbolt of clarity and the indestructible nature of the diamond’. Contralto Karen Clark is the director, and the only instrumental accompaniment is by Shira Kammen on several kinds of mediaeval harp, and a stringed instrument called the vielle, played with a bow.


 The group lives and performs in San Francisco, with this recording done in St. Ignatius Catholic Church there in August 2015. It is their first and it was crowd-funded (KickStarter) on the independent classical and jazz label Music and Arts Programs of America. The recording quality, and booklet and packaging are top quality. I end with a hearty recommendation for this album, and a quotation from Hildegard, one of the earliest feminists:


 “Woman may be made from man, but no man can be made without a woman.”"


— Paul Kennedy, Audiophile Audition, November 4, 2016







O ETERNE DEUS - MUSIC OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN.  VAJRA VOICES

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O ETERNE DEUS - MUSIC OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN.

Vajra Voices

Karen R. Clark, director with Shira Kammen, vielle and medieval harp

1. Quia Ergo Femina; 2. O Quam Magnum Miraculum Est; 3. Ave Generosa; 4. O Frondens Virga; 5. Ispariz (instrumental. Arr. Kammen); 6. O Ignis Spiritus Paracliti; 7. O Ignis Spiritus Paracliti; 8. Laus Trinitati 9. O Eterne Deus; 10. Instrumental on Kyrie (arr. Shira Kammen); 11. Rex Noster Promptus Est; 12. Kyrie; 13. O Virtus Sapientiae; 14. O Viriditas Digiti Dei. Total time: 50:22. UPC # 0-17685-12912-4.

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