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Classical music has a history of Composing… Women! So this Women’s History Month Tri States Public Radio and the WIU School of Music shines the spotlight… one every weekday… on over twenty great female composers. From baroque to romantic… to impressionist… to post-serialist. From the mystic Abbess who advised the Pope… to the Chicagoan whose works were rediscovered in an abandoned house. Listen in for Composing Women… Every weekday during March at 7:19 during Morning Edition, or at 5:48 during All Things Considered, as TSPR Music Director Ken Zahnle introduces you to our composer of the day… and at 11:00 a.m. during Ovation for a featured work by our featured classical master.

Hildegard von Bingen

We know her now as a composer of atmospheric chant… but in her lifetime, Saint Hildegard von Bingen was better known as a theologian, herbalist, writer, leader of a religious order, and advisor and confidant of Popes. Born in 1098 to a noble German family, Hildegard experienced her first religious vision at the age of 5. At 14 she and another young noblewoman, Jutta von Spanheim, were cloistered at a Benedictine monastery, The two exchanged letters frequently with the outside world, becoming known for their spiritual and theological knowledge. Soon joined by other noblewomen, Abbess Hildegard would establish her own convents in Rupertsberg and Eibingen.

Although we don’t know when she began composing, she may have learned to play the psaltry between religious services… as much as four to five hours per day of that... and probably learned simple psalm notation from her order’s visiting monk. Among her best-known works is the morality play Ordo virtutum--- which tells the story of a soul, tempted by the Devil, finding its way back to the refuge of the Virtues. Hildegard made effective use of a more melodic late-medieval chant style, and gave a clear characterization of the Devil: he never sings, he only shouts.

Because her order collected and preserved her music--- and perhaps because most other Medieval musicians remained anonymous--- Hildegard holds the record as the most prolific composer of her time.

Hildegard von Bingen… a Composing Woman.

Ken oversees all music programming for Tri States Public Radio, hosting the morning classical music program Ovation, the Saturday nigh jazz survey After Hours, and engineering recorded performances for TSPR. Ken is a native of Highland Park, IL, with degrees in music and broadcasting from Western Illinois University. Teenage years listening to Chicago's old-school fine arts and classical radio stations, coupled with a few months spinning discs on a college residence hall radio station, led him onto the primrose career path of radio. Ken has deep roots at TSPR, starting as a student staff announcer and host, before becoming news director for a group of local radio stations, then Program Director for Tri States Audio Information Services. When he's not deep within our studios and music library, he continues his over quarter-century of assisting Macomb High School's Marching Band.