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SYBILLA reprised:  The complete Hildegard motets of Frank Ferko

The Esoterics will bring its nineteenth season to a spectacular finish by reprising its performance of the complete Hildegard motets by American composer Frank Ferko (b 1950) this December. Ferko’s motets, composed between 1993 and 2012, set texts by the 12th-century mystic Hildegard of Bingen.  Ferko has had a long relationship with Hildegard and her visions, and has written both instrumental and choral music inspired by her work.  In this concert, The Esoterics will perform sixteen motets by Ferko, with a newly-composed world-premiere motet, O nobilissima viriditas (2012). The texts of Ferko’s motets come from Hildegard’s Symphonium celestium revolationum, a cycle of more than seventy poems that she composed for use throughout the church year.  In his realization of Hildegard’s visionary texts, Ferko employs organ-like textures and harmonies that evoke the music of Messiaen and Poulenc. An accomplished organist and composer for organ, Ferko is a scholar on the music of Messiaen, on whom he has lectured extensively. In his motets, Ferko’s lavish harmonies are juxtaposed with acerbic phrases of Medieval counterpoint.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), the Christian mystic, visionary, and composer, was also known as the Sybil of the Rhine, thus the title of this concert offering.  Elected as magistra by her order in 1136, she founded the monasteries at Rupertsberg and Eibingen. She wrote on many subjects, including medicine and botany, and composed one of the earliest surviving morality plays, the Ordo Virtutum. Hildegard began to experience seeing “the light of God” as a youth, and at age 42, she received a vision that she believed was an instruction from God: “write down what you see and hear.”  Hildegard’s visions were completely recorded at age 75, in three volumes, and include her Symphonia, a collection of musical works setting her own texts.

Ferko’s compositions based on the life, music, and writings of Hildegard von Bingen have gained international attention.  His articles on the music of Hildegard and her influence on present-day composers have appeared in the British music journal Choir and Organ. Ferko has been lauded as a composer and has received an award from ASCAP every year since 1989, and was composer in residence for the Dale Warland Singers. Ferko’s Hildegard motets have been performed in excerpts by choirs across America, but never before as a complete cycle. Ferko looks forward to his Seattle premiere: “I am extremely impressed, excited, and highly gratified that such a fine ensemble as The Esoterics has taken on this monumental challenge.”

Please join The Esoterics for one of these three reprises of SYBILLA: (To purchase tickets click here.)

Friday ∙ 7 December 2012 ∙ 7pm ∙ Shoreline
First Lutheran Church of Richmond Beach ∙ 18354 8th Avenue Northwest

Saturday ∙ 8 December 2012 ∙ 8pm ∙ Seattle
St Joseph Catholic Church ∙ 732 18th Avenue East

Sunday ∙ 9 December 2012 ∙ 2pm ∙ West Seattle
Holy Rosary Catholic Church ∙ 4152 42nd Avenue Southwest