Commissioned by Inversion Ensemble for Da Capo’s January 2023 Origins concert, Julian’s Hazelnut (2022) by Adrienne Inglis sets text by Julian of Norwich for treble voices and B flat clarinet. Born in about 1343 in Norwich, England, Julian survived the Black Plague as a girl of six. She became an anchoress at St. Julian’s Church in Norwich where she lived in prayerful seclusion. In 1373, she became very sick at age 30. Near the point of death, a curate showed her a crucifix for comfort. She then experienced a series of intense visions of Christ and recovered from her illness to write eloquently about her “shewings.”
The beautiful Medieval English text for this piece is from The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, Part I lines 148-154 in which Julian reflects on the vision she experienced about a hazelnut in the palm of her hand. She comes to understand that God loves even a small, ordinary thing like a hazelnut, such that it will not disintegrate but last forever because of God’s love for it. In Julian’s vision, the hazelnut symbolizes all that is made — all of Creation that God made and loves forever.
The music combines Medieval sounds and counterpoint with lush, modern harmonies, woven together with the smooth color and elegant lines of the clarinet. Singers use Original Pronunciation to capture the lyricism of Julian’s words. May this piece inspire the same awe and amazement at God’s beloved Creation that Julian felt centuries ago.
Watch here: https://youtu.be/XtVWoGp_nd4