The Song Company: Circle of Virtue by Hildegard of Bingen

 

November 2020 During Covid this wonderful young company have rehearsed and are ready to present The Circle of  Virtues: A Morality Play by Hildegard of Bingen.
I have added two of my poems telling some of the background story of Ordo Virtutum said to be the first morality play by a woman in Western musical repertoire. Ordo Virtutum is really an allegorical morality play or sometimes called a liturgical drama composed by Hildegard in 1151 AD

Special Announcement

The Song Company

The Song Company presents
Circle of Virtue by Hildegard of Bingen

The Song Company invites vocal music lovers back into concert halls in Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney as they present Ordo Virtutum (Circle of Virtue), the oldest surviving music drama, by 12th-century visionary, Hildegard of Bingen.

Abbess, visionary and natural philosopher

One of the earliest-named composers in Western musical history and outspoken in her dealings with princes and popes in mediaeval Europe, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) created the earliest-known opera or music drama, Ordo Virtutum (c.1151), for the female inmates of her Abbey at Rupertsberg.

The fight for the salvation of the Soul (Roberta Diamond) by the Virtues (led by their Queen, Jessica O’Donoghue) from the Devil (Koen van Stade) is set to the most sumptuous chant for women’s voices for which Hildegard is known, and accompanied by drones, medieval organ and other atmospheric effects.

The Song Company presents a semi-staged performance of Hildegard’s story of the internal struggle of a Soul battling for her mental well-being with seventeen Virtues on one side and the Devil on the other…

Be excited for an evening of wonderful music combined with a transcending and atmospheric stage presentation.

Circle of Virtue is the perfect way to support your national vocal ensemble’s return to the stage and to experience Australia’s finest vocalists in live performance.

Cast

Roberta Diamond – Anima
Pip Dracakis – Chastity
Josie Ryan – Victory
Jessica O’Donoghue – Queen of the Virtues
Janine Harris – Hope
Ethan Taylor – Prophet
Hayden Barrington – Patriarch
Koen van Stade – The Devil
Ruby Bron, Iris Farrer, Annie Farrer – Chorus of Souls

Antony Pitts – Artistic Director
Neil Simpson – Lighting Consultant
Pip Dracakis – Costume Co-Designer
Sue Carveth – Costume Maker
Wendy Walker – Props Designer/Maker
Leonie Cambage – Design & Original Concept

Thanks to Timothy Chung and Santa Sabina College for loan of Portative Organ (made by Ron Sharp)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A few poems from my recently published book

Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating

First Opera

In a vision
Hildegard has her sisters
sing as personified Virtues
in song and action.

She sees struggle
against the devil,
visualises it played out as drama.

Volmar can take the part of the devil.
He will not sing, she ponders aloud.

All abuzz, she hastens to tell Richardis.
With Volmar as scribe
they create their first opera.

Hildegard writes the words and notes,
Richardis plucks the psaltery
sings softly,
her radiance caught in a stream of light

Their eyes catch
mirror harmony of purpose.
Hildegard’s thoughts drift back
to the eight year old Richardis,
who looked to her as mother,
and the one
whose tender hands held her,
cared for her, in her sickness.
Now at twenty two a grown woman.

Showcasing the Abbey

An early spring afternoon
illumines vividness of robes and gowns.

Hospitality of the new Abbey
welcomes lively entourages,
Bishops, Priests, monks, dignitaries, clerics.
The Marchioness Von Stade,
a rare visit to her daughter at Rupertsberg,
and the largest audience
ever seen in Bingen arrive.

After the Bishop’s blessing of the Church
Hildegard and her sisters,
walk, poised and noble
in splendid procession
down the aisle in long flowing gowns of silk
singing glorious, heavenly music.

They circle the altar
dazzling brides of Christ,
singing their opera,
a morality play,
virtues triumphant, vices subdued,
the struggle of the human soul
with the wiles of the devil.

Hildegard catches
the Marchioness’ shocked gaze
focused on her confident beautiful daughter.

When the sisters harmonise in a chorus
and Richardis sings the solo
to end the opera
tears fill her eyes,
she bows her head.

After Vespers that evening
the last meal before Lenten fast
their excitement and pride is palpable.

Admonishment rains down like the Rhine
after a snow melt.

This domineering woman holds my daughter back,
Marchioness Von Stade stabs at Volmar.
Her sisters too free, says another angrily.
Her sisters too visible, says another .

Outside her window the oak resists the wildest storms.
Hildegard stands defiant,
against all criticism. 

 

 

Spring in the Australian bush at Burrawang and Bobbin Head

 

THE BURRAWANG WALKING TRACK IN SPRING

 

 

 

Whenever we are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware we walk on sacred ground.

There is something mindful to briefly pause as one does on a threshold  allow our mind to catch up with our footsteps.  It is a reminderto pay attention asking permission and being thankful for  our entry into a place .

Spring is for stepping out and our local Wyrrbalong National Park ( gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the linger of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the odd siren of a red Waratah  backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the odd iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue remind us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea well the lake in our walk today which curls around Tuggerah Lake 

We parked our car at a small car park off the road not far after Magenta. The first sign told us fox poison was laid . . . I felt sad after the wonderfully wild fox we saw in the past few days in the Water pond off Ibis Road  but then if they are taking the birds and wild life maybe it has to be done. It reminds me of another walk I do  at Normanhurst in Sydney  where last year  signs appeared that they had laid baits against the rabbits . ( that saddened me too as I loved their little furry ears popping up and watching me as I walk. But I think the rabbits had the last laugh as they moved down onto the grass near the railway line and I travelled past they were hopping about everywhere.  I love it when the Grandchildren are on the walk with me we sneak along telling each other shshsh and tiptoeing along watching for little ears to pop up and then run off.  

 The Burrawang Walking Track was the beginning walk and we walked taking in the fresh, unwithered air and breathing deeply to find an inner calm. 

BOBBIN HEAD WALK

Another walk that needs to feature here is our walk at Bobbin Heads in the Ku ring gai National Park along the shores of the Berowra Waters. A picture tells a thousand words.

 

One of the special walks here is the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Red hands Cave is one of its special sites . it is not known how old some of this art is but either way you are bound to be in awe of this natural Aboriginal  art from the Guringai people There are impressive rock cravings  and further down the track there is a historical occupation shelter. During the colder months families would lighta fire inside warming the stones and themselves.

The people of West Head were virtually decimated by an outbreak of small pox within a year of the arrival of the First Fleet.

Pause for a moment in this beautiful bushland to reflect and pay your respect.

 

tanka from recent walks

eucalypt leaves
i search for the unblemished
realising
the beauty is in
the speckled and scarred

 

 

walking
on pink clouds
in wave washed sand
my toes encounter
the first touch of spring

 

ocean waves
roll in   roll out
give and take
as if they are the most
attentive listeners

When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou A refelction

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

by Maya Angelou

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020, at her home in Washington, D.C.,

“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Roberts said in a statement. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Ginsburg laid in state in the Capitol on September 25. She will be the first woman and second Supreme Court Justice to have this honor. Ginsburg also laid in repose at the Supreme Court on September 23 and 24.

Thousands gathered outside the Supreme Court, waiting in line for nearly half a mile to pay their respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the hours after her passing, Democrats and Republicans hailed her public service and example.

Beyond the Beltway, a poll conducted a few days before Ginsburg’s death revealed that she was more widely known than Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and 44 percent of respondents gave her a favorable rating compared to 28 percent for Roberts.

Ruth was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death. and during her life time fought for equality and justice especially in gender equality. 

Ginsburg was a cultural icon, her image reproduced on millions of T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags and socks? Americans typically have little knowledge about politics, and deep distrust of government institutions and leaders. As political theorists, we believe that the political philosophy of virtue ethics, stretching back to ancient Greece and embracing Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, helps explain why people admire Ginsburg’s personal attributes as much as her accomplishments.

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” Ginsburg said these words and made them famous but she was actually  quoting the words of Sarah Moore Grimké, a 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights activist:

My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.
I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling.
Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.
 * * * * * * * * * *
And this week in Australia we have lost a great warrior of social justice and feminine equality and work against discrimination in the sudden death of Susan Ryan

Vale Susan Ryan. A trailblazing woman in our Australian  parliament and in public life.

The first female minister in a Labor government in 1983, yes remarkably so late, holding several portfolios in the Hawke government.

We owe the Sex Discrimination Act to her determination, and she later served as

the first age discrimination commissioner, and so much more.

From Penny Wong: Susan Ryan. Champion of equality, courageous feminist and steadfast trailblazer. All Labor women are part of your legacy and we are determined to advance it’.

Rainbows: A new eyeku , poem and some photos from my walk

 

Chasing a rainbow

out beyond the swales
where the sea ebbs and flows
keeping time
to the thrumming of the universe
a rainbow vibrantly
quilts the sky
each pleated pastel reflecting
down on the wave-washed sand
the archer bends his bow
and breaking waves
arrow the light

beyond the rock platform
waves crash into the edge
their wild cascade spindrifts
catching coloured molecules of light

in the rock pool
the dark swirl absorbs the colours
crabs come out to view the scene

it bows across the sky
pot of gold to pot of gold
and like a breath of air
this grand spectacle that filled my walk
disperses and is gone
leaving only a grey whisper of cloud

 

 

 

Splash, Slither, Squawk ed.Michele Bomford and Julie Thorndyke

It would be 40 years ago when Michael and I went for picnics along the Bell River near Wellington in western NSW and enjoyed finding good river bends to spot platypus. The thrill has been an enduring memory for us. We have always  hoped that our grandchilren will have this opportunity as well. Hence there is great excitement and pride to be included in The Society of Women Writers NSW new and celebratory Anthology  ‘Splash, Slither, Squark’ created for young people empowering  them to advocate for our wildlife and planet. It is full of hope for our future  and the proceeds  go to helping to restore our unique flora and fauna especially our wombats and our Bush Fire service.

Children including three of our grandchildren (during their homeschooling term) have  joined in illustrating the stories, poetry, articles and adding their voice to this anthology.

The home of  Society is The State Library Of NSW. Chief Librarian John Vallance is an amazing advocate of children’s book and we are proud of his support of the anthology.

Margaret Hamilton Wombat Care Bundanoon, NSW Rural Fire Service Lithgow, New South Wales Society of Women Writers Victoria Fans of SCBWI City of Sydney ABC Sydney Christmas Press Picture Books  The Children’s Bookshop ALT Media Jackie French City Hub Sydney RSPCA Australia Lisa Berryman HarperCollins HarperCollins Books Australia Pat Simmons Jacqui Brown Writer Tory Gervay

Buy a copy to save our wombats & support the bushfire appeal –

Splash, Slither, Squawk!

Edited by Michele Bomford and Julie Anne Thorndyke

ISBN  978-0-9808407-5-9 RRP  $20 https://womenwritersnsw.org/

Credit Card or PayPal: https://www.trybooking.com/BKXWO

To celebrate our 95th birthday The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc – the oldest association of women writers in Australia has collaborated to create Splash, Slither, Squark, and  anthology to empower our children to be advocates for the future of our planet.

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Contemplative photography . Finding moments of grace today.

Some moments of grace found on my walk today from Dolphin Court to Tuggerah Lake.

one of lightness of being and joy with a ‘feathered angel ‘  in my view and a later

in the week along Tuggerah Lake a new moment of grace. –one of beauty in light but darkness gathering.

The evening Eyeku of mine .

Remembering we are both  parched and quenched  by the illumining light  reminds us joy and sadness are both the flip side of each other.

I like Kahlil Gibran’s  words from The Prophet:

“Your joy is  your sorrow unmasked.
And the self-same well from which your laughter
rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. . .
Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow’, and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater’
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

 

 

Making photo haikus or eyekus my new soulful art of creativity

Eyykus . Yes a new word for me. 

Words and pictures together are more potent than either alone. Haiku photography combines an image with a short poem to link the essence of nature with human life. It is not meant to describe but to allow the reader to enjoy a similiar experiemental feeling that  the photographer had. Hopefully some will open  new doors of consciousness.  They can be seen as a threshold  to another world often the wordless world .

Haiku invites us to obeserve the immediate moment with our full attention . This is in harmony with the essence of contemplative photography  and the mediative moment of transcendence.

 

This sunrise photo was taken from the balcony of The Dolphin Court apartment.

It could become the motif for every day . Look up even in lock down the sun rises in all her glory into a new day. It is up to us to ask

What is the most important Thing today. How can I make today count?

Soul Work – being creative reminds us of our place in the cosmos

My new project . Uniting  three of my  favourite creative activities:  poetry photography and nature walking.  Each is a creative retreat for me  – restorative to body , mind, spirit and soul.I trust anyone who comes across them will poise and ponder  and praise the cosmos that gives us
life. The first photo was taken on my morning walk from Dolphin House to Shelly Beach where the ebbing tide gave me great opportunities to enjoy the pellucid sand.  Making photo haikus is not original. Some call them  an eyeku  and eyekus  and they need to be about nature and awareness complementing each other and each enriching the other a little deeper .

 

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