What Is a Doctor of the Church? The Case of Hildegard of Bingen

Event Description: St. Hildegard of Bingen is known and appreciated primarily for her music-making, and Doctors of the Church, typically for their theological and philosophical prowess. In this Faith & Reason lecture, musicologist, organist, pianist and composer Aaron James of the Oratorian Holy Family Church will explore what it might mean for a figure like Hildegard to be a doctor of the Church. What might we say about the significance of Hildegard for theology when so much of her work is not traditionally “theological” in its genre – music, visual art, drama, scientific writing, and accounts of her visionary/mystical experiences? Drawing on the figure of St Bernard of Clairvaux and others, Mr James will explore the life works and theological significance of Hildegard – polymath, Saint and Doctor of the Church.


Aaron James’ Bio:

“Aaron James is the Director of Music for the Toronto Oratory of St Philip Neri, serving at Holy Family Church. A native of Toronto, Aaron studied at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY), where he earned both the PhD degree in musicology and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance. At Eastman, he studied with Edoardo Bellotti, Hans Davidsson, and Michel Bouvard, as well as William Porter (improvisation, continuo). He was the 2011 winner of the National Organ Playing Competition of the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) and was also a finalist in the 2013 Franz Schmidt International Organ Competition (Kitzbühel, Austria). He performs regularly as an organ recitalist both in Canada and in the United States and has appeared as a soloist with the Eastman Graduate Chamber Orchestra, the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a Fellow of the RCCO, the College’s highest academic distinction, receiving the Willan and Porter prizes for the highest standing on the 2012 Fellowship examinations.Before returning to Toronto, Aaron served as Director of Music at St Mary’s Church (Auburn, NY), where he oversaw the completion of the renovation of the parish’s 1890 Carl Barckhoff pipe organ. He also served as an instructor of music history and theory at the University of Rochester. His academic research focuses on the dissemination and reception of the Latin motet in the mid-sixteenth century and has been the basis of numerous conference presentations in the United States, Canada and Europe. Aaron’s most recent published work appears in the Journal of the Alamire Foundation and in Early Music. In addition to his work at the Oratory, he serves as a part-time instructor of organ literature at the University of Toronto.”

Choir of Angels – an Artwork by Hildegard von Bingen
Scivias 2.1: The Redeemer is a Medieval ink and gold leaf drawing created by Hildegard von Bingen in 1150

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