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The St. Paul-based Rose Ensemble will soon open “Sibyls of the Rhine,” a series of candlelight concerts highlighting medieval chant and polyphony from Germany and France. For this show, the internationally-known ensemble will focus on the sounds of the Gregorian Vespers, with the atmospheric, 13th century “Song of Songs” by minstrel/poet Heinrich Frauenlob and a selection of sacred music and poetry by 12th century polymath mystic, philosopher, composer, doctor and Benedictine abbess, Hildegard von Bingen.

In addition, the Rose Ensemble will perform William Beckstrand’s “Tears of the Soul” (written especially for the ensemble 15 years ago, in 1998). They will be joined by guest instrumentalists Priscilla Smith and Greg Ingles, playing 14th-century court music for recorder, slide trumpet, shawm, harp and psaltery.

Hildegard von Bingen, "Doctor of the Church, Sybil of the Rhine". Photo: Miniatur aus dem Rupertsberger Codex des Liber Scivias, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hildegard von Bingen, “Doctor of the Church, Sybil of the Rhine.” Photo: Miniatur aus dem Rupertsberger Codex des Liber Scivias, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The group will perform “Sibyls of the Rhine” in a number of churches across the Twin Cities and Duluth from February 14 through 17, among them a concert on February 15 at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. pre-performance presentation) in the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 1109 Wellesley Ave., St. Paul. Find ticket information here: http://www.roseensemble.org/shows/candlelight-concert-sibyls-rhine.

Even better, the Rose Ensemble will be at the Merriam Park branch of the St. Paul Public Library to present a musical demonstration and lecture on the historical and musical context of “Sybils of the Rhine” at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 11, 1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul. Find details here: http://www.thefriends.org/programs/calendar.html.

Rose Ensemble, photo by Michael Haug.

Rose Ensemble. Photo by Michael Haug

Speaking of homegrown choral superstars, here’s a little gem that caught my eye this week: Twin Cities-based Cantus was featured on National Public Radio this week in the charming Tiny Desk Concert series. The acclaimed men’s a capella ensemble gathered around Bob Boilen’s desk at NPR Music headquarters in D.C. to sing three songs; the performance was captured on video and posted online; I’ve embedded it above.

Incidentally, you can hear Cantus again on public radio this week, as they’re going to be featured musical guests in the next episode of “Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor, broadcast live from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

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