Verdant Medicine: Hildegard’s Resonant Apothecary by Alkemie

The Immersions: Summer Break Program Series kicks off with Brooklyn-based medieval music ensemble Alkemie performing in Thompson Memorial Chapel.

Alkemie. Photo: Oliver Weston

Brooklyn-based medieval music ensemble Alkemie makes their Berkshires debut with a performance of Verdant Medicine: Hildegard’s Resonant Apothecary, inspired by the life and writings of the twelfth century mystic, medic, and musician Hildegard von Bingen. 

This performance will take place in the Thompson Memorial Chapel. Please find a campus map here. Following the performance, join us at 6:30 p.m. for a reception on the WCMA Patio. Galleries will remain open until 8 p.m.

This multi-dimensional program situates Hildegard’s music within her understanding of medieval pharmacognosy (i.e. plant medicine), sharing her vision of an earth-bound transcendence that connects humans to the divine through spiritual “greening” and the five senses. “Intersensory Program Cards,” hand-made for the performance, pair Hildegard’s music, texts, and associated images with materials that audiences can literally smell, taste, touch, and hear. 

Founded in 2013, Alkemie exists to explore and share the life-affirming and alternative perspectives to be experienced in the sounds of centuries past. Comprised of singer-performers playing over a dozen instruments (including vielles, harps, psaltery, gittern, recorders, douçaines, and percussion), the ensemble has a particular interest in the porous boundaries between the court and folk music of the Medieval period. Alkemie’s members are also committed to the lively teaching of medieval and Renaissance performance practice and history. Since 2018 they have maintained a partnership with the Medieval Studies program at Fordham University.

Connecting to the Galleries

Nature as both a metaphor and conduit for human growth and healing can be found throughout the galleries, including in the works of seventeenth century artist Aegidius Sadeler II and contemporary artist Kara Walker, currently on view in the exhibition Remixing the Hall

While the works of Hildegard von Bingen are not on display at WCMA, you will see examples of the ways medieval readers in Christian Europe used the five senses to engage and make meaning of the written word. The exhibition Embodied Words thematizes the senses as a means by which to feel words, whereas in Verdant Medicine the musicians of Alkemie use the senses to contextualize the world of Hildegard. 

July 7, 2022
5:30 PM

Thompson Memorial Chapel

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