About us

The course is organised by Eilish Butler and Willem Hulsegge in close cooperation with the St. Hildegard Abbey and the Wallfahrtskirche. Eilish and Willem are longtime collaborators in the field of music and spirituality combining research into spiritual singing technique with a love of chant. As graduates in Early Music, they continue to study with Dr. Rebecca Stewart  and perform regularly with the International Werbeck Ensemble. For this course  they are joined by guest teachers Dr. Stewart (Cantus Modalis) and Sister Lydia Stritzl (Abtei St. Hildegard).

Irish singer and choir director Eilish Butler teaches Werbeck singing, medieval chant and Irish song. She combined a degree in singing at the Vrije Muziek Academy in Zeist (Netherlands) with her studies at Artez Conservatory. Later she completed an MA in Ritual Chant & Song at the University of Limerick (2011). She also attended the MA programme in Mysticism at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, RUG Groningen. She now runs the Uncover Your Voice programme in Ireland and UK. Singing and studying Hildegard’s legacy had been her passion for decades.

Dr. Rebecca Stewart (born in California), musicologist and singer, taught at the Baroque Singing Department of the Royal Conservatory (Den Haag) and later as head of the Early Vocal Department of the Brabants Fontys Conservatory. She received her PhD in Ethnomusicology in 1974 having worked for many years in Hindusthani classical music. During her career in the Netherlands she has focussed on early western music and has published on the relationship between modal singing and modal music. She has produced many CDs with her earlier ensemble Cappella Pratensis and her current ensemble Cantus Modalis. and continues to give concerts, lectures and demonstrations. In our course her focus will be on the relationship between Hildegard’s modes, their generating bourdon and the acoustical surroundings.

Sr. Lydia Stritzl OSB, musician and Benedictine nun of the order of the Benediktiner Abtei Sankt Hildegard, is the Community’s organist who also offers introductory courses on singing Hildegard’s songs. Alongside her role as organist Sr. Lydia works in the field of spiritual care. On our course she will teach Caritas Habundat, the chant which in her eyes contains the core message of Hildegard’s theology. She will also address Hildegard’s view on the importance of chant in daily monastic practice.

Born in the Netherlands, Willem Hulsegge began his musical education with a degree from the  Conservatory of Zwolle (now Artez). Much later he completed his MA in Ritual Chant and Song (Limerick University 2014). In working with Christiaan Boele (Schule der Stimmenthüllung) he has developed an innovative approach towards the singing of plain chant. He has further joined the MA programme at the RUG faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Groningen). On this course Willem will offer morning voice sessions and will teach on historical and theological aspects of Singing Hildegard.

The Abbey and the Wallfahrtskirche are pleased to receive you as their guest. In the words of the Abbess: “Some of you will have found your way here by following the footsteps of our patron saint, St Hildegard. Or you may be intrigued by what the life of a Benedictine community might be like today. Whether you are looking for answers to questions concerning your life or faith or would just like to enjoy a few days of singing, know that you are very welcome”.

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