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About this Piece

“I am the height and the depth, the circle and the descending light” —Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen, composer, mystic, philosopher, and poet, searched for a complete understanding of the universe and the place of man in the fabric of the cosmos. Her writings and theories echo our current explorations in physics and mathematics, as well as our quest to understand the infinite complexities of the world and to find meaning for ourselves within it. 

“I saw an extremely strong, sparkling, fiery light coming from the open heavens. It pierced my brain, my heart, and my breast through and through like a flame which did not burn” —Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard had visions of celestial events, stars, and fire, and “reflections of the living light”. These visions might have been related to intense migraines, her depictions of shattering lights and celestial constellations suggesting the aura of migraine sufferers. So her visions become embodied, human and worldly, and connect directly with physical and emotional suffering.

“These harmonic notes are the language of the soul and instruments of the heart.” —Barbara Strozzi

Barbara Strozzi, one of the most innovative composers of the Renaissance, created an intensely intimate relationship between words and music, and composed with a profound understanding of human suffering. Francesca Caccini’s music had a similar emotional complexity, and also brilliant theatrical invention. Their songs spring to life with emotion, with the human experience of love and loss at their center.

“The human being contains the likeness of the heaven and the earth within” —Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard saw in the human a microcosm of the universe, “as above, so below”. It is an idea which also took flight in the Renaissance, where microscopes and telescopes allowed access to ever smaller, and ever farther, universes. Current technologies have expanded these theories, showing images of the cosmic web that seem to mirror exactly the web of neurons in the brain.

“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got Heaven and Earth, and all of creation. You’re a world—everything is hidden in you.” —Hildegard of Bingen

Electric Fields traces ideas of connection and disconnection, the finite and the infinite across the works of three composers searching for meaning in a complex universe. “Eternal recurrence” or the idea that everything will occur again and again, indefinitely, collapses time and space and creates a circle, where everything is connected, and the human and the universe are one. —Netia Jones