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Professor Altstatt to present on 'lost-and-found' manuscript

Posted on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

University of Northern Iowa School of Music professor Alison Altstatt will present a lecture, part of the "Musically Speaking" series, titled "Re-membering the Wilton Processional: A Manuscript Lost and Found." Altstatt will speak at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, in Russell Hall, Room 116. The event is free and open to the public.

"A single leaf of the manuscript is located in the special collections of the University of Iowa's library," said Altstatt. "It brought to mind another single leaf that I had seen at Indiana University's Lilly Library. Once I verified that these two leaves were from the same manuscript, I was able to use bibliographic information to locate more. I have assembled 34 single leaves of the original manuscript with the assistance of a host of scholars and librarians."

The manuscript is a late 13th- to early 14th-century processional from the women's Benedictine house of Wilton Abbey in England that disappeared around 1860. The processional contains the texts and music of the chants sung in processional rituals. Wilton Abbey was founded in the ninth century and was famous throughout the Middle Ages as a center for women's Latin learning.

"The manuscript is a primary source that tells us much about the ritual, music and poetic tradition of the women of Wilton Abbey," said Altstatt. "It significantly adds to our knowledge of religious women in medieval England, and the beginning of the Gregorian chant revival at Solesmes Abbey. This manuscript also serves as a case study in the emerging field of digital fragmentology."

During her lecture, Altstatt will explain the process of finding the pages of the manuscript and its role in medieval Wilton Abbey, the 19th-century Gregorian chant revival and the 20th-century American manuscript market.

For more information about UNI's School of Music, visit www.uni.edu/music or contact Caroline Boehmer, communications and operations coordinator, at 319-273-2028 or caroline.boehmer@uni.edu.