Musica Susch › Past Concerts › Peregrina

PEREGRINA ensemble

Music from Polish and German Poor Clares Monasteries (13th-15th c.)

28 August 2022, 5 pm

Muzeum Susch, Auditorium

Video Courtesy: Ensemble Peregrina


Two important figures of the Middle Ages shaped the Filia praeclara programme. One was St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), who founded the Order of St. Clare together with St. Francis; the other - was Kinga of Hungary (c. 1224 - 1292, canonised by Pope John Paul II in 1999), the wife of Duke Boleslaw V (called Pudicus, the Chaste). Under her rule, Poland experienced a cultural heyday with the rise of important cultural centres and highly productive scriptoriums. Not only do Poland's oldest polyphonic mass settings date from this period, but also a copy of the famous French Magnus Liber (with splendid polyphonic music of the Notre Dame school) was brought back to Poland by Kinga. Fragments of Kinga's copy of the Magnus Liber are still preserved today in the southern Poland monastery of Stary Sącz, whose leadership she took over after her husband's death.

Thus the music from Polish and German Poor Clares monasteries of the 13th and 14th centuries, which have left behind a fascinating and hitherto hardly explored heritage, forms a focal point of the programme. The ensemble Peregrina subtly brings to life the multi-layered intellectual and sound landscape of the Polish Poor Clares monasteries - such as Stary Sącz: With unique musical pieces and thus probably most original productions of these monasteries, with artful polyphonic chants from the fragments of Kinga's Magnus Liber, which have been carefully reconstructed for this programme, and to round off the programme with monophonic sequences for the patroness of the order, St. Clare, and other liturgical chants from the environment of the Poor Clares.

Video credits: TVP Kultura, Domówka z Dwójką

The Latin adjective CLARUS, CLARA means not only clear, but equally luminous, illustrious, pure, or for acoustic phenomena bright, i.e. a bright sound that is loud and clear, or in relation to the mind, a clear understanding that expresses something clearly and understandably, or in a figurative sense, i.e. for example with regard to character or social position brilliant, prominent, glorious, famous.

From this are derived a host of other words with the same variety of meanings, such as PRAECLARA (exceedingly clear, thoroughly precise, etc.), CLARITAS (the clarity, etc.), CLARESCERE (to become apparent, to become bright, to shine, etc.) or CLARE, which in Middle Latin orthography is both an adverb (in a clear way, etc.) and the genitive of the name Clare, which creates additional potential for wordplay.

In the poems on Clare, light and brightness, as well as the metaphoric of celestial bodies is, a recurring topos, such as in the sequence Gaude celi ierarchia, where the 4th stanza says: "You are truly an exceedingly brightly shining star, only slightly inferior to the sun [Christ]". In the sequence and the Rondellus Clara Dei famula, among the many allusions to Clare's vita, the paupertatis titulum (the privilege of poverty granted by Pope Innocent III) and the following of Christ in Mary's footsteps are particularly noteworthy.

Among the Poor Clares, there are also pieces on other saints, such as St John the Evangelist - pictured as a handsome youth with intensely feminine features - who was worshipped in the 14th century, especially in women's orders, with fervour sometimes bordering on erotic ecstasy. An example is a motetManere/MANERE, with multi-layered allusions to a Gradual for the Evangelist John, based on a quotation from the Gospel of John. Serena virginum/MANERE is a conductus motet on the same tenor, but this time with a Marian text. The allusions to the wise virgins in the conductus motet Ad veniam perveniam, who await the bridegroom's arrival with full vessels of oil, over the tenor TAMQUAM: "SO, HOW [a bridegroom, the Lord emerges from the bridal chamber], belong to common Clarean symbolism.

Besides the Benedicamus Domino, the Alleluia with its verses also gives a vivid picture of the liturgical celebrations of this order. The first is explicitly for Clare and plays in its verse O virgo clarens with the multiple meanings of the words clara, claritas etc. In contrast, as the beginning of the verse, Ave benedicta Maria makes clear, the second is for the Mother of God. One of the most remarkable rarities of this programme is Conductus Omnia beneficia, which has survived only in Stary Sącz.

ensemble Peregrina


CHF 25,00 (concert/ normal)

CHF 15,00 (concert/ reduced)

Combo Tickets:

CHF 37,00 (Muzeum Susch entrance + concert/ normal)

CHF 23,00 (Muzeum Susch entrance + concert/ reduced)

You can buy the tickets at Muzeum Susch reception during the opening times or book them online here.

↘ Concert programme

↘ About Ensemble Peregrina