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An enchanting hymn in the stunning refectory of Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

Fluke Cha | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 05/04/24

The Windborne Singers put on a performance to remember from within the 1,000-year-old halls of the picturesque Mont-Saint-Michel in France.

An enchanted setting demands enchanting tones, and that’s just what the Windborne Singers provided when they visited the picturesque Mont Saint-Michel in France. This excellent quartet started singing in the refectory of Mont Saint-Michel, which has some of the finest acoustics around and really made the performance grand. 

Mont Saint-Michel has stood just off the Normandy coast for over 1,000 years, with the millennial anniversary of the laying of the first stone of the abbey church celebrated in 2023. A monument of the Middle Ages, this mysterious church on the edge of the world has spurred devotions and the imagination for centuries

So when a group of singers wants to perform a hymn at such a storied and downright gorgeous location, they better bring their A-game. Enter the Windborne Singers, with 20+ years of experience singing the polyphonic tones that once rang in Mont Saint-Michel’s halls, Lauren Breunig, Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Lynn Rowan, and Will Rowan put on quite a show. 

The group expertly uses dynamics to create a soundscape that flows like a river through the hall. An even split between the male and female voices creates a wonderful juxtaposition between the light soprano and the rumbling bass. The tune itself utilizes lilting melodic patterns in order to change the chord with just one sliding voice. 

Stabat Mater is a 13th-century hymn to the Blessed Mother. The song is rich with emotion, usually set to minor tones, as it attempts to capture the intense suffering of the Virgin Mary as she watched her son be crucified. This particular rendition, as explained by the Windborne Singers, originated in Corsica, in the village of Nebbiu. That it originated in the Mediterranean explains the heavy use of quarter tones in the trills, which is a staple of Middle-Eastern music. 

Hear more from the Windborne Singers at their YouTube channel. 

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