Portrait of the famous Hilliard Ensemble
Whenever one talks about vocal music, either ancient or modern, the Hilliard Ensemble is probably the best known group worldwide. The four singers have managed to re-stimulate interest in "old music", which for a long time eked out a niche existence. The immense number of records sold bears witness to their success, figures otherwise only reached by pop stars or the so-called "great tenors".
Their voices float angelically through the room, which the Hilliards regard as the fifth musician. Everything is tremendously precise: the intonation, the timing, the dynamic coordination between the voices, the strictly painted sound fastidiously weighed up until the last audible moment. Everything is so pure, ascetic and clear at the same time, the song gets enraptured almost a little celestially.
In the context of the "Hilliard Summer School" last year the ensemble sang music from the Middle-Ages to the present. The amazing thing is how the sound of her voices forges links between the centuries, and all music becomes the music of the Hilliard Ensemble.
The film accompanies the musicians during their summer courses in the romantic surroundings of Engers Castle on the Rhine. The Hilliards give some "classic" concerts, from Perotin to new compositions, written especially for the ensemble.
Of course the singers get a substantial chance to speak for themselves in the film. Once, an insubordinate journalist joked "the oldest boy-group in the world". Listening to the lively words of David James, the senior Hilliard, it seems like a compliment. "We are individualists, but the music is the centre which attracts us like a magnet again and again", and one is convinced that the four also have lots of fun, apart from the music.