About Schola Nova Silvana

Fabian Lochner

fabian lochner

As a young person, Fabian fell in love with Gregorian chant when he experienced the singing of the monks at Clervaux monastery in his native Luxembourg. His academic studies into the history and theory of medieval chant earned him terminal degrees from the Free University of Brussels (Belgium) and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA), where his outstanding teachers were Hubert Schoonbroodt (organ), Walter Meessen (voice), Michel Huglo (medieval music history) and Calvin Bower (medieval music theory).

Now in his fifties, Fabian is an experienced choral leader, pianist, and voice teacher who has performed and taught widely in the USA and the UK. His popular world music choir Voices of the Forest has a membership of fifty singers and have just released their third CD. Fabian also has many years of experience leading community-based singing, including for people with special needs and of all abilities.

Fabian's approach to chant performance seeks to blend the rhythmic interpretation of chant spearheaded by Dom Cardine with a flexible style that pays great attention to diction, expression, warmth and resonance. He is thrilled to have in Schola Nova Silvana a group of singers that is responding with skill and enthusiasm to this style of singing.

Fabian feels passionate about communicating the inspiration of chant to specialist and non-specialist singers alike. He holds the firm belief that medieval chant, far from being arcane or antiquated, is not only fantastic music for all to sing and to enjoy but is a much needed force for healing in the stressful times in which we live.

You can read an article by Fabian about Gregorian Chant and about the collaboration between Schola Nova Silvana and Hilary Stobbs by clicking HERE. This article has appeared in a volume of essays on music and spirituality published under the auspices of the Reverend Professor June Boyce-Tillman of the University of Winchester. The full reference is: Fabian Lochner, 'What angels? Gregorian Chant and spiritual meaning in a secular world: Reflections on an artistic collaboration between Gregorian chant ensemble Schola Nova Silvana and British poet Hilary Stobbs', in: June Boyce-Tillman, Stephen B. Roberts and Jane Ericker, Enlivening Faith. Music, Spirituality and Christian Theology. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019, 349-386. Posted by permission.

Hilary Stobbs

hilary stobbs 2Hilary Stobbs lives on the outskirts of Aberdeen and despite being brought up in the South of England, she has always enjoyed the pull Northwards to a broad sky and nature that is less tamed. Her poetry has appeared in Northwards Now and Pushing Out The Boat. She is also the winner of the Chapbook Competition, 2015, organised by the Grey Hen Press, with Until It Rains.

Her challenge in the current project is to respond to a unique combination of spoken and sung voice, centuries apart. Hilary's poetry offers a clear response to the chant but it also creates a pathway into nature or meetings with various characters. Interestingly the Latin language has started to find its place among the lines of poetry and between the verses. The spoken and sung voice have become interdependent. The overall effect is strikingly modern.

Visit Hilary Stobbs' website

See Fabian's interview with Hilary - below

Christopher Kidman


Christopher has spent much of his artistic life around English poetry - teaching Speech Eurythmy as a carrying member of faculty of the Ringwood-Botton School of Eurythmy for many years, and choreographing numerous eurythmy performances to the works of all the major poets in the language.

In his retirement he has discovered a love for the art of poetic recitation and has developed a small but ardent group of followers. Christopher feels excited about the opportunity to combine his love for the spoken word with the singing of medieval chant. He has been very instrumental in facilitating the collaboration between Schola Nova Silvana and Hilary Stobbs and is centrally involved in perfecting the blend between poetry and song in Schola programmes.

Poetry and Chant in Conversation

Schola Nova Silvana is a Gregorian chant choir which has performed at Salisbury cathedral, St. Michael’s Southampton, and various venues around the New Forest. The age-old chants in Schola’s repertoire are presented in dialogue with new poetry written by prize-winning poet Hilary Stobbs. Here, Musical Director Fabian Lochner talks to Hilary about their exciting collaboration.

Fabian: We have had some great audience responses to our special mix of Gregorian chant and your poetry. Do you remember how it all began?
Hilary: I cannot remember our original conversation, but very soon it became clear that the Schola Project would develop into a real partnership between music and the spoken word. Originally, I saw myself as accompanying the chant throughout the changing seasons of the year. Yet this has grown into two disciplines meeting on an equal footing.
Fabian: What is your experience of medieval chant, as a 21st century person?
Hilary: When I was very young I remember walking with my parents through a beech wood. I could hear singing but saw no-one. Before long we came to an abbey and the doors were wide open. The singing – which as I now know was Gregorian chant – seemed to ring around the stone pillars and walls. It filled the space. I could almost touch it. This memory has stayed with me since I was 5 years old. ‘Stone’ is written from this memory. Stone can resonate, vibrate and store up the music of hundreds of years. It says, ‘come in and listen’.
Fabian: How do you relate to the religious or spiritual aspects of the chant repertoire? How is this reflected in the poetry you have written?
Hilary: There is a religious source to the chant but it is not my intention to write religious poetry. There is more of a spiritual encounter. The language can be inspired by Christianity, Paganism, or indeed anything where humanity has tried to walk the borders between the visible and the invisible.
Fabian: What is your experience of the seasons and how is that reflected in your poetry? Has that relation changed in responding to the medieval form of the liturgical seasons?
Hilary: My core inspiration as a writer continues to be the wild or subtle changes in nature throughout the year, right down to the rising sap in the veins of a leaf or the sound of an acorn dropping. To my delight, it is a seamless progression to walk inwardly alongside the ancient chant, the words and music continuing to open up possibilities for each other. Latin text from the liturgy sits comfortably within certain poems. The Green Man of ancient lore finds a welcome just as much as a cross that will be used for the Crucifixion!


Fabian: What would you most want our audiences to know about this project?
Hilary: The Schola Project offers a uniquely modern experience for those who dare to listen. There is no bias, merely the chance to become different for a while. This is not a walk in the past but a courageous walk on current borders, tide-lines and edges where our innermost thoughts and wishes can become lost and found again.
Fabian: What does the future of the Schola project look like?
Hilary: Our collaboration will continue wherever the words and music lead us, there is a wealth of material to be explored! I have been so pleased that audiences have responded so enthusiastically. It is a voyage of discovery for the writer, the performers and, of course, the listener.
Fabian: Anything else you would like to add?
Hilary: A special mention should go to our talented Speaker, Christopher Kidman. His sensitive understanding of the sound, rhythm and pace of language really brings my poetry to life!


Stones are a store-place
waiting for song.
Notes touch them like fingerprints
and seep into quiet hollows,
knocked and rubbed down corners
or fault-lines –
a song can live in a fault-line
and ring to warm the tread and stillness of the hours.

Hilary Stobbs Copyright 2018