(exclusive of Europe)
In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:
Aaron Concert Artists
220 West 148th St. 4J
New York City 10039, NY / USA
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Vocalist, harper and scholar Benjamin Bagby has been an important figure in the field of medieval musical performance for more than 30 years. After musical studies in the USA (Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College) and Switzerland (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis), he and the late Barbara Thornton formed Sequentia in 1977 in Cologne, Germany, where the ensemble was based until Mr. Bagby moved to Paris in 2002.
The years since 1977 have been almost uniquely devoted to the work of Sequentia. Mr. Bagby created more than 70 innovative concert programs of medieval music and music drama, giving performances in Western and Eastern Europe, North & South America, North and West Africa, the Middle East, Japan, Korea, and Australia.
In 1981, the ensemble began to release the first of many LP's and CD's which encompass the entire spectrum of medieval musical practice. Many of these recordings – including the complete works of Hildegard von Bingen (7 CDs) have received awards: the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis (for Vox Iberica, 1993), two Netherlands Edison Awards (for Hildegard von Bingen recordings, 1987 and 1998), a French Disque d'Or (1996), the CHOC of Le Monde de la Musique (2002) and Diapason d'Or (1995 and 1999). Sequentia's best-selling CD, Canticles of Ecstasy, has sold more than 500.000 copies worldwide and was nominated for a Grammy Award as best choral recording.
For all of these recordings, which were researched and assembled by Bagby and Thornton, the accompanying booklets are appreciated for their rigourous scholarly quality, with great attention to detail, to the sources, and to the work of philologists (such as Peter Dronke, Pierre Bec, Heimir Pálsson and Ulrich Mueller) who collaborated on the textual editions. In addition, Sequentia projects witnessed collaboration with musicologists such as Leo Treitler, Edward Roesner, Harmut Möller and Richard Crocker.
The most recent CD releases of Sequentia (Edda: Myths from Medieval Iceland; The Rheingold Curse; Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper and Fragments for the End of Time) are based solely on the research of Benjamin Bagby, reflecting his interest in oral poetry and the use of traditional music in reconstructing ancient modal vocabularies. They are grouped under the banner ‘The Lost Songs Project.’
Bagby also directs the Sequentia men’s vocal ensemble for the performance of medieval liturgical polyphony and chant, which traces it beginnings to the mid-1980’s. The major project for the men’s voices in 2003-4 was a collaboration – entitled Chant Wars – between Sequentia and the Parisian ensemble Dialogos (dir., Katarina Livljanic). The CD of this program was released by Sony-BMG (DHM label) in 2005. In 2009, he created a new men’s vocal ensemble in Paris, which has toured extensively.
Apart from the research and ensemble work of Sequentia, Mr. Bagby devotes his time to the solo performance of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic oral poetry; an acclaimed performance of the Beowulfepic is an ongoing project, with performances given yearly worldwide, and a DVD production released in 2007.
In addition to reseaching and writing more than 70 program books for festivals and concert series, and writing (or co-authoring, with Barbara Thornton) more than 25 CD booklets, Mr. Bagby has written about performance practice, with articles appearing in Early Music, Early Music America, in the Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music (IU Press) edited by Ross Duffin, in the Basler Jahrbuch für historische Musikpraxis, and in a recent collection of essays, Performing Medieval Narrative.
As a guest lecturer and professor, he has taught courses and workshops at – among others – the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Harvard University, the Autunno Musicale (Como, Italy), the Modus Centrum (Oslo), Amherst Early Music (Tufts University), Wellesley College, the University of Texas at Austin, Northwestern University, the New England Conservatory of Music (Boston), Sarah Lawrence College (NY), St. John's College (Santa Fe), Duke University, Stanford University, the Studio Alte Musik (Berlin), the Royaumont Foundation (Paris) and the Stary Sacz Festival (Poland).
In 2000 Bagby was a guest speaker at New York University’s Medieval Studies Program, and he spent a semester as a visiting Krieger Fellow at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland); in 2001 he was invited as Patten Lecturer at Indiana University (Humanities and School of Music), as a humanities lecturer (together with Ping Chong) at the University of Michigan, and was a guest professor at Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL). In 2003 he was awarded a Fortieth Anniversary Fellowship by the Religion and the Arts Initiative (Center for the Study of World Religions, in conjunction with the Music Department) of Harvard University, where he and Katarina Livljanic spent 6 weeks in residence developing the program Chant Wars. In 2004 he was a Trotter Distinguished Visiting Professor (University of Oregon) and in 2007 – again together with Katarina Livljanic – he was a Cornille Distinguished Visiting Professor at Wellesley College. Bagby and Livljanic were visiting instructors at Harvard University in 2011. In 2011 Bagby was also awarded the Howard Mayer Brown Lifetime Achievement Award by Early Music America. Since 2005 Bagby has been on the music faculty of the Université de Paris - Sorbonne, teaching in the master’s programme for medieval music performance.
Mr. Bagby is married to the Croatian singer and musicologist Katarina Livljanic.
Benjamin Bagby: Resume (PDF, 135 KB)
28 April 2017
Chicago, IL, University of Chicago, Logan Center
Monks Singing Pagans
30 April 2017
New York City, NY, Music Before 1800, Corpus Christi Church
Monks Singing Pagans
11 May 2017
Paris, Université de Paris – Sorbonne, Amphithéâtre Richelieu
Classes at Princeton and Yale
While on tour in the USA performing ‘Beowulf’ in March and April 2017, Benjamin Bagby taught classes and lectured at Princeton University (speaking about the music of Hildegard von Bingen) and at Yale University (a lecture-demonstration on his performance of Beowulf), and participation in the Yale School of Music’s weekly meeting called ‘Medieval Song Lab’, hosted by musicologists Anna Zayaruznaya and Ardis Butterfield.
Benjamin Bagby has recorded the only surviving Old High German epic fragment, the Hildebrandslied (The Song of Hildebrand), for inclusion in an audiobook version of Adam Gidwitz’s new book for children and young adults, The Inquisitor’s Tale, just released by Penguin/Random House. He also recorded harp accompaniments to go with portions of the reading of the story. A release event is being schedule for New York City in early April, 2017.
New program given birth at Cambridge University
Following working sessions in 2014-15 with University of Cambridge musicologist Sam Barrett in the USA (Harvard University and Ohio State University) and in Cambridge (Pembroke College), Sequentia was in residence at Cambridge in April for the final rehearsals of the new program 'Monks Singing Pagans'. An informal video of a rehearsal made by the university became a YouTube sensation, with over 500,000 views. In addition to their rehearsals and working sessions on the songs of Boethius, Sequentia gave a masterclass and the premiere performance of 'Monks Singing Pagans', immediately followed by the US premiere during a residency at Dartmouth College (USA). The week spent at Dartmouth included teaching activities in music history, performance practice, Latin poetry and manuscript studies. Sequentia returned to Cambridge in late June to prepare a special program of the Boethian songs, which was given as part of a symposium on medieval Latin song, with a special concert on 2 July in Pembroke College Chapel.