Notre Dame Cathedral, Hildegard of Bingen and the Brandenburg Choir


Notre Dame  

A story of ritual,
                          of resolution
                                              and resurrection. 
by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Live, vulnerable and raw, the story  . . . . Notre Dame  . . . with the Baroque music , the bringing in Victor Hugo with the Hunchback of Notre Dame,  the bells, the continuing restoration, the horrific tragedy of the fire in 2019 and the rising up again from the ashes was a very rewarding  musical, afternoon experience.

As the music played, the large screen through church panels told the story in slowly moving  pictures .

And the most delightful surprise of my afternoon was hearing the music of Hildgard of Bingen chosen for the climax of the performance.  Out of the silence  it was her music that was chosen to speak of hope in the moment of despair. 

It was in the stark climax of destruction as one turns in despair for the next step to move out of this dark place, to rise again  . . . and the soprano  of their choir, I think Bonnie  de la Hunty,   who walked out in white amidst  the left over smoke  and smouldering ash and with her exquisite soprano voice sang  O Virga ac Diadema  (from Hildegard of Bingen, written while she was building her own church and Abbey in the 12th century as Notre Dame was also being built. ) 

She sings Hildegard’s song here today 2nd March 2024 originally written in the 12th century .

O blossom, you did not spring from dew 
nor from the drops of rain
nor from the windy air flown over you;
but divine radiance has brought you forth 
upon that noblest bough

For a moment I was Hildegard gazing at the young sister, Richardis  whom she had trained in music from when she was young , listening to the beauty of her voice,

When the sisters harmonise in a chorus
and Richardis sings the solo to end the opera
tears fill Hildegard’s eyes, she bows her head.   (from Hildegard of Bingen C Keating)

and I remember Hildegard’s anticipation in the poem before this which works so poignantly for  the story of Notre Dame

Amid the blossoms of their second Easter
birds fly to and fro building nests
and hildegard sends out her invitations.
Music will bring light to the dark.
Stillness will become dancing.
The Bishop of Mainz
will bless our newly built church.
There is to be a concert.

All are welcome.       (from Hildegard of Bingen by C Keating)

  I especially loved the  the sense of warmth and fun and lightheartedness in the performance with the story of the young Australian restorer  ( a bit brash but i understood her being there)and Victor Hugo (well the ghost of Victor Hugo)

The Australian review  proclaimed  that a ”concert with the Australian Branadeberg Orchestra is like stepping back in time as the sound of the period instruments resurrect Baroque and Classic works with reverence and authority.

How Michael and i remember Notre Dame Cathedral from our cruise on the Seine on our Europe tour in 2015.

Notre Dame Cathedral  2015 from The Joy of paris

by Colleen Keating


from our cruise on the Seine 
we gaze in awe at your aged beauty
your spires, domes, flying buttresses
reaching upwards like arms open in praise
dressed in a grandness  of ancient glory
standing for so many centuries 


close up we stand on your sacred  land
where in ancient times a pagan temple to Jupiter stood
lightness of leaves a tracery on your flaxon stone
intricacies and details of story carved into you 
like tatooes  marked on your body to tell a story
mythical and demonic creatures  grotesques  
and  gargoyles touch of pagan  . . . stamp of christanity
all for the Mother, mother of earth, mother of us all 


we enter your cool dark sanctuary 
looking up into the heavens of your spires
feeling so small    yet safe 
as if your arms  sturdy and forever hold us
burn candles with murmur of ancestral prayers
on your breath. Flickers of rainbow light play
in hazy dust motes as your Rose windows l

ike the eyes of a goddesses catch 
the cosmic sun to channel into you
the light making  miracles in your spectrum of emotions
blues ,crimsons,golds  shine for our memories



smoke gives the warning  
flames orange red purple rage
burning into our hearts

our mother is burning
our earth is breaking
her oak spires –  collapse

treasures grabbed
spared  saved
peoples lives spared

 days of heart break 
we stand in our kitchen
thousands of miles from Paris

grasping our throats
as if the smoke chokes
we grasp at the breath of ancient oaks

burning and later we stand
hands on our heart in mourning.
till we hear the leader

and people of Paris declare

we will work to save her
we call on the world send your best craft people
she will rise up in glory

in glory once again’