Universal Woman

A Sydney Festival exclusive celebrating the works of Hildegard von Bingen


Tickets to Universal Woman are now sold out. Click here to view the Sydney Festival website for announcements of any available tickets or future dates.

Paul Dyer AO Artistic Director, Chamber Organ, Percussion
Kate Box Narrator
Michael Costi Script
Melissa Farrow Medieval flute/recorder
Chloe Lankshear Soprano
Amy Moore Soprano
Josie Ryan Soprano
Lauren Stephenson Soprano
Adria Watkin Soprano

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra celebrates the remarkable creative achievements of Hildegard von Bingen, the twelfth-century polymath whose life story and body of work continue to resonate through the ages.  

Hildegard was a visionary and entrepreneurial German abbess who travelled widely as a linguist, mystic, scholar, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, poet and a composer. Nine centuries after her death, Universal Woman pays tribute to this iconic trailblazer with a moving and thought-provoking program curated by the orchestra’s celebrated artistic director, Paul Dyer.  

The program also features a selection of Hildegard’s own songs and poems, narrated by Kate Box.

A Sydney Festival exclusive, Universal Woman takes place inside the spine-tingling acoustics of St Mary's Cathedral Crypt, with six performances led by singers from the Brandenburg Choir as well as the Brandenburg musicians on period instruments. 

Approximately 60 minutes, no interval.

Presented in association with Sydney Festival



Paul co-founded the Brandenburg in 1989 after completing postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague, and has been Artistic Director and conductor since that time. He is a performing artist comfortable in his unique music arena – whether working in ancient music, contemporary music, opera, with artists such as circus performers, contemporary dance, or visual art. His busy performing schedule in Europe, Asia, the USA and Canada over the years has synchronised perfectly alongside his bold stage work in Australia.

Paul is an inspiring teacher and has been a staff member at various conservatories throughout the world. In 1995 he received a Churchill Fellowship and he has won numerous international and national awards for his CD recordings with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir, including the 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010 ARIA Awards for Best Classical Album. 

Paul has performed with many international soloists including Andreas Scholl, Cyndia Sieden, Marc Destrubé, Christoph Prégardien, Hidemi Suzuki, Manfredo Kraemer, Andrew Manze, Yvonne Kenny, Emma Kirkby, Philippe Jaroussky and many others. In 1998 he made his debut in Tokyo with countertenor Derek Lee Ragin, leading an ensemble of Brandenburg soloists, and in August 2001 Paul toured the orchestra to Europe with guest soloist Andreas Scholl. In 2015, he was featured on the soundtrack of the James Bond 007 movie, Spectre.

A passionate cook, entertainer, foodie, teacher, swimmer and traveller, he is friends with people and artists from Istanbul to India and Japan to Italy, and creates a unique platform for overseas performing artists to work with him and the Brandenburg in Australia.

Among his list of achievements, Paul was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2013 for his ‘distinguished service to the performing arts in Australia’. Paul is Patron of St Gabriel’s School for Hearing Impaired Children. In 2003 Paul was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for his services to Australian society and the advancement of music, and in 2010 Paul was awarded the Sydney University Alumni Medal for Professional Achievement.


Kate Box graduated from NIDA in 2003, and was most recently seen in SBS mini-series Stateless with Cate Blanchett. In 2019, Kate was nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actress in a television drama for her work in ABC series, Les Norton. In 2018, Kate starred as ‘Marg McMann’ in the tele-movie Riot (ABC, 2018 Logie Nomination for Most Outstanding Actress, and 2018 AACTA Winner for Best Lead Actress). Kate has appeared in all five series of Rake (ABC) as ‘Nicole’, Rake’s long-suffering legal secretary (2015 Equity Ensemble Award, 2011 Equity Ensemble Award).  In 2014 Kate received an AACTA Award nomination for Best Lead Actress for her role in feature film, The Little Death.

Kate’s recent television work includes The Unlisted, Upright, Sheilas (ABC), Picnic at Hanging Rock (Foxtel), Wanted (Netflix) and F*cking Adelaide (ABC). Other credits include Soul Mates, Old School, Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Offspring, My Place, False Witness, All Saints, Scorched, Tripping Over, Small Claims and the web series Let’s Talk About.

Her film credits include: Ben Elton’s Three Summers, The Daughter, Random 8, Oranges and Sunshine, Hush, You Cut, I Choose, The Black Balloon and Back of the Net.

Theatre credits include: Jasper Jones, A Christmas Carol, Food, and The Business (Belvoir); Top Girls, Cloud Nine, Macbeth, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Doubt (Sydney Theatre Company); Knives in Hens (Malthouse Theatre); Attempts on Her Life, Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen, Hot Fudge, Central Park West (State Theatre Company of South Australia); Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bell Shakespeare); A Rabbit for Kim Jong-Il, Tender (Griffin Theatre Company); Dolores (Old Fitz Theatre); The Clockwork Forest (Brink Productions/Windmill Theatre); 4:48 Psychosis (Brink Productions); 7 Blowjobs (B Sharp); Miss Julie and I’ve Got the Shakes (Darlinghurst Theatre Company).

Michael Costi is a Sydney based writer for stage and screen. Michael is a recent graduate from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) where he was awarded a Masters Degree in Writing for Performance. His recent playwriting credits include: The Canterbury Tales after Chaucer (New Theatre), The Silk Piglet (NIDA Independent) and The Overcoat which will premiere later this year as part of Belvoir St Theatre’s new 25A season. Prior to attending NIDA, he was awarded a Bachelors Degree in Law from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Venue Details
St Mary's Cathedral Crypt
2 St Mary's Road
Sydney NSW 2000

A luminous year of Baroque!
Explore Season 2021

View our brochure online filled with the details of our six exceptional subscription concerts of 2021.


What could possibly be better than a ticket to one of our concert series?


A subscription package!

Get a subscription package!

If you’re a fan of the Brandenburg we think you’ll love our range of subscription packages! Available for Sydney or Melbourne venues, in sets of 3, 4, 5 or 6 concert packages; you’ll get the complete Brandenburg experience, for the perfect price in the perfect seat, the whole year round!


Find tickets

Check Availability