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Singer Barbara Thornton Dies

November 15, 1998

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) _ Barbara Thornton, an American-born singer and medieval musicologist whose performances popularized a 12th-century opera, died Nov. 8. She was 48.

Thornton, who died of complications from a brain tumor at the Caritas hospice in Cologne, founded and directed the Cologne-based Sequentia medieval music ensemble with her partner, Benjamin Bagby.

A specialist in the sacred music of Hildegard von Bingen, she introduced the abbess’s opera ``Odro Virtutum″ to a wide audience when Sequentia performed it for the first time in 1982.

The ensemble has since recorded all of Hildegard’s music, and its summer production of the opera at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival was one of three versions performed this year.

``Her instrument was her voice, which was particularly suited to medieval music,″ said her mother, Margaret Thornton, of Exeter, N.H.

Thornton was born in Summit, N.J., and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. At 19, she moved to Europe, studied in the Netherlands and Italy, and received a diploma from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland.

After moving to Cologne, she founded Sequentia in 1977 with Bagby, a singer and medieval harpist. In addition to the works of Hildegard, the ensemble has recorded sacred works from Spanish monasteries and courtly love songs from the 14th and 15th centuries.

In addition to her mother, Thornton is survived by her father and two sisters. She will be buried in Ascona, Switzerland, her mother said.

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