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about the antiphonal
Saint John the Baptist

    The Glorious Antiphonal Exhibition

    The State Library of South Australia's official 1998 Adelaide Festival of Arts exhibition highlights one of the Library's most beautiful treasures. The Antiphonal, its history and the story of its conservation will delight and inspire you. The Antiphonal will be on view to the public between February 6 and April 26 in the State Library of South Australia's Exhibition Space. The most highly prized item in the State Library of South Australia's fascinating, Rare Books Collection - The Antiphonal - has been described as the "ancient star" of the 1998 Adelaide Festival of Arts. Viewers will be taken on a journey across 600 years and half the globe, with a work of sacred art that joins two worlds.

    The 13th century, illuminated, music manuscript book, created in a central Italian monastery, was acquired for the Collection in 1945 by the Friends of the State Library.

    Over the last five years the State Library has, with the assistance of Artlab, combined traditional craft with the latest in technology to painstakingly restore this beautiful book of Gregorian chant for posterity.

    While the 180 leaves were individually restored on a flat surface using vellum and stereoscopic technology, the Library also took the opportunity to create high quality, photographic images of each page. Those images have been digitised and can now be shared with the world via the Internet.

    The exhibition will tell the original story and explain the meaning of The Antiphonal, including its creation and daily performance by the monastic choir; reveal the skills and processes of its contemporary conservation; and allow viewers to 'turn' each precious page of the manuscript in virtual reality on a dedicated computer in the exhibition.

    At the heart of the exhibition will be the "ancient star" in all its glory.

    The Internet site:


    The site contains over 730 pages. One series of 359 contain images of individual pages of the Antiphonal combined with a transcription of the original Latin whilst another series of 359 provide images and an English translation of the text. Additional pages provide such information as the history and perceived highlights of the Antiphonal.

    Transcription & Translation Pages

    The authors of the site have tried to follow the textural colouring and layout as far as was feasible. Actual text is coloured black whilst instructions are red and author's notes are blue.

    Each transcription page has a file designator of orig[number].htm form, with orig1.htm being page 1 of the transcription. Translation pages have a similar designator with trans1.htm being the translation for page 1, therefore if a particular page is sought, please type the appropriate file number into your browser's location field. From within the transcription or translation sections it is possible to navigate forward or backwards one page or from transcription to translation page, by means of the appropriate button or link.

    The site is under continuous development and now includes a multi-media presentation of the choir performance.

    Multi-Media Presentation Digital Files
    The digital sound files covering a portion of the performance of the Antiphonal are available in two formats, a standard wave file which covers a few bars of the Magnificat and as a Real Audio file which provides a longer excerpt of the performance. In order to hear the Real Audio file it is necessary to download a player and associate this application with your browser. A free version of the Real Audio player may be acquired by clicking on the graphic below.

    real player download