Beata Viscera Lutgardis Virginis

The Music of LUTARDIS – Project 3

The music for the artistic dance video LUTGARDIS – Project 3 was created by composer Valéry Demaré in collaboration with choreographer Sander Vloebergs. This blog offers an insight in the process of music making and the creation of a unique composition based on an intertextual study and an intermedia collaboration. 

October, 12th 2018: Meeting to discuss the inspiration for the musical composition

During this meeting Val and Sander explored musical and textual references for the composition. Both artists were inspired by 13th century musical traditions; the same time period as the Mulieres Religiosae (the holy women of Liège) and Lutgardis of Tongeren in particular. They selected the music of Italian composer Perotin (Val experimented with his music in the past). The piece is called Beata Viscera Marie Virginis. The text was written by Philip the Chancellor and is a hymn to Mary and the mystery of the Incarnation. 

We choose this text to include this intertextual layer that relates Lutgardis to Mary. Late Medieval piety gravitated towards Mary and her son Jesus, venerated as the Human Christ. Female mystics and saints imitated both Mary and Christ in order to find union with the divine. To Lutgardis and other women, Mary was the example to imitate in order to reach this goal. With this intertextual connection we relate Lutgardis and her struggle towards perfection (described by Thomas of Cantimpré in three parts of her saintly biography) with Mary, the ideal Woman. 

Beata viscera
Marie virginis
Cuius ad ubera
Rex magni nominis,
Dictavit federa
Dei et hominis

O mira novitas
et novum gaudium,
Matris integrita
Post puerperium
Blessed flesh
of the Virgin Mary,
at whose breasts
the king of eminent name,
concealing, under altered guise,
the force of divine nature,
has sealed a pact
of God and Man
O astonishing novelty
and unaccustomed joy
of a mother still pure
after childbirth…
Trans: Barbara DeMarco

Find the complete text and extra information on :

Music on YouTube :

October, 28th 2018: Meeting with the singers and the dancers 

Music: Valery Demaré, singers: Therese Depretre (soprano), Charlotte Deschamps (alto), François Martens (base)


Choreography: Sander Vloebergs (choreographer), Linde Michiels (dancer), Linde Stiers (dancer)

The musicians and dancers met during the second session in the dance room of the KULeuven to explore the possibilities of an intermedia exchange between dance and music. We reversed the dynamics between dance and music by creating the music according to the choreography (I experimented with this method before for the project CHRISTINA). The choir rehearsed the Beata Viscera prior to this session. The song was transformed according to the rhythm of the choreography. The conductor recreated the song step by step while the dancers repeated the dance phrases multiple times and analyzed the meaning of the movements. 

I wanted to highlight some important passages in particular, namely the moment where the singer seems to loose her voice. In this passage the choreography meets the music. The dance represents Lutgardis of the second book (see blog…) at this point, the woman-in-between.  She is neither a saint, nor an ordinary woman. In her struggle to reach perfection she looses her voice – or she is silenced by society. In the moment of letting go by releasing her breath, the dancer and the singer regain agency.  

November, 25th 2018

Before the day of recording the lyrics were changed as well. The original text of the Maria Viscera was replaced by a passage from the saint life of Lutgardis, written by Thomas of Cantimpré. The text describes Lurtgardis heavenly voice. The theme of this passage refers to the beautiful sound of the choir but it also refers to the tension between heavenly sound and voiceless breath, the tension between saint and ordinary women (introduced in the previous paragraph). The music and the choreography both construct the theme of VOX

At quoniam Lutgardem per omnia Agnum secutam diximus, videas quid Agnus rependerit. Fas enim est sponsum sponsæ suæ vicem rependere. Sed vide quemadmodum reddidit. In monasterio S. Catharinæ, omni sexta feria in vespere sabbathi subsequentis, in venerationem beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ merito deputati, cum Versus super Responsorium f cantabatur (cujus utique versum ob gratiam devotionis Lutgardis sola cantare solebat) videbatur ei interim dum cantaret, quod Christus in specie Agni super pectus suum se tali modo locaret, ut unum pedem super humerum ejus dexterum alium super sinistrum, & os suum ori illius imponeret ; & sic sugendo de pectore illius mirabilis melodiæ suavitatem extraheret. Nec dubitare quisquam poterat in hoc cantu, divinum adesse miraculum, cum in solo Versu illo vox in infinitum solito gratior audiretur. Unde & corda audientium ad devotionem interim mirabiliter movebantur (Boek 1, 19)
Acta Sanctorium, June 3th

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