Illuminations 2019 Program Guide



We invite you into the pages of a book:  The Salzinnes Antiphonal of 1554

Wander and explore, sit or stand at your leisure, immerse yourself with

all of your senses into the life in and of this extraordinary book.

Sit amidst the nuns intoning the liturgical Hours, meditate, be transported. Watch the calligrapher at her work. Read about the displayed pages, and take in the complex symbolism in each gesture. Listen to curator Judith Dietz who discovered this ancient manuscript as she tells you its story.

Taste the recreations of Medieval food and drink, touch the leathers and linens, breeze under the banners above, and allow yourself to become absorbed in ancient and universally moving chant.

                   But please don’t speak to the nuns.

                  They are, after all, in another century!

Feel free to chat in low voices, but when the bell rings to announce the singing, please keep silent for the chant. This is your museum, and your experience.    

Explore and exult.

OCT 2019 program

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Hildegard von Bingen's ORDO VIRTUTUM

Hildegard von Bingen: abbess, composer, singer, poet, herbalist, nutritionist, spiritual advisor, traveling con- sultant to popes, emperors, seer, prophet, Sybil of the Rhine, ultimate visionary, New Age darling. Her music is played in such a variety of venues, sacred, spiritual, meditative, even spooky. A close look at her notation would suggest it is not for the faint of heart, even to those unfamiliar with it. When one looks at the manuscript, and the pages excerpted in your booklet, as well as the exquisite backdrop hand painted with such diligence and skill by artist Martha Bancroft, the notation itself suggests activity, movement, even agitation. Hildegard, no shy flower, meant to provoke her singers as well as her listeners into alertness and vigilance. She believed the Devil was working all around us...

FEB 2020 program



In these seismic times, even the notoriously white and male and conservative classical world has had to accommodate the reality of women composing music, as we like to say, from (at least) the 9th century to the present day...

NOV 2018 program

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When Lea Mendelssohn first caught sight of her newborn daughter Fanny, she exclaimed, “Bach fugue fingers!” Fanny did not disappoint, showing prodigious talent in music, only to be overshadowed by her gifted younger brother...

MAR 2019 program

Women composers are emerging from their studios. So we think it’s time to return to the repertoire of baroque Italian cloistered nuns - women in clausura - who gave us our beginnings and our name 15 years ago...

JAN 2019 program


On our journey from 14th century Reims to 21st century Maine, we meet poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut and his 21st century counterpart Patricia Van Ness. Machaut, now considered the greatest poet-composer of his time, wrote one of the earliest known polyphonic (many voiced) settings of what came to be called the ordinary of the mass, a sequence of six unchanging daily prayers dating back to the early Common Era

NOV 2017 program

In our hyper-visual culture the experience of pure listening is a rarity. For this, the fourth edition of our signature surround sound program, we invite you to sit inside the music and let our ensemble, in ever-changing constellations of voices, surround and delight you with pure melody and harmony...

JAN 2017 program

Barbara Strozzi would have been about thirteen in 1632 when Claudio Monteverdi, in his sixties, published Scherzi musicale, his final volume of diverse works which includes the baroque pop tune Zefiro Torno. Being Venetian, and the daughter of a member of the cognoscenti, she may even have met Monteverdi at some point

MAR 2017 program                                                                            

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When I first heard Elena Ruehr’s Eve, as premiered by the Cantata Singers, I was captivated. I loved the beyond gorgeous harmonies and rhythms, and was transfixed by Ruehr’s redaction of Genesis: the work ends not with the banishment from the garden, but on the line just before the banishment: “And the eyes of them both were opened.”

MAY 2017 program