Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

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Sequentia celebrates its 40th anniversary in March 2017




Katja Zimmermann

(exclusive of Europe)

Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
4592 Hampton Ave.
Montréal, QC, Canada
Tel: 514-467-5052

In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:

Jon Aaron
Aaron Concert Artists 
220 West 148th St. 4J
New York City 10039, NY / USA
Tel: 212-665-0313


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Margriet Tindemans (1951-2014)

Margriet Tindemans (1951-2014)Sequentia joins the early music world in mourning the passing of a great musician, teacher, instrumentalist and mensch, Margriet Tindemans, who left us in the last days of 2014. Her long and brilliant career can hardly be summarized here, but I thought I might recall a bit the ‘old days’ during Margriet's years with Sequentia, when she lived in Maastricht, then in Belgium just across the border from Aachen, and finally in Cologne. 

Sequentia was founded in Basel in 1977, as Barbara Thornton and I were finishing our diplomas in medieval music performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. In fact, it was our joint diploma recital in February 1977 which marked the beginning of Sequentia, followed in March by the first concert given under the Sequentia banner, in Brussels. In those final student days, the medieval fiddle players of the group were Alice Robbins, Sigrid Lee and Dana Maiben — an astonishing array of talent. When the decision was made to establish the ensemble in Cologne after graduation, only Barbara and I were interested in making Germany a new home, so we were looking for new colleagues in the area. In the meantime, we had met up with a great young lutenist from Cologne named Paul Shigihara Haltod, who was a student of Michael Schäffer. We had already heard from one of our teachers, Thomas Binkley, about a ferociously talented young fiddle player from the Netherlands, Margriet Tindemans, and we resolved to go hear her play with Syrinx, a Dutch ensemble of five women very active at the time. We met her after one of their concerts in Germany and proposed that we get together to ‘try some things’. Our first meeting with her in Cologne was so much fun, a real revelation, and we hit it off right away! But she was already a player much in demand in those days, while also finishing her viola da gamba solo diploma with Wieland Kuijken in Brussels. We had some concert commitments in late 1977, but since Margriet was not yet available, for those first concerts in Geneva and Göttingen we were joined by Rosamund Morley (studying then in den Haag) on fiddle. In early 1978 we finally had a chance to work with Margriet, usually going to her place in Maastricht for rehearsals — our first performances with her and Paul were in Belgium and Germany, with a program called ‘Tradition and Avant-Garde in the 13th Century’. During the course of that year Paul decided to abandon early music and lute in favor of jazz guitar (he’s still the lead guitarist with the West German Radio Big Band), and then, as if by magic, Crawford Young literally walked through the door. We all met up on the shores of Lago Maggiore in Switzerland that summer for intensive rehearsals and a first performance, and began performing in a quartet formation which would remain stable for the next three years (see photo, ca. 1980). Margriet shared a small house with Crawford in the Belgian countryside near Aachen, where we used to rehearse. At some point she needed to take time off to prepare her gamba diploma recital in Brussels, and during that period Mary Springfels replaced her for a residency in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. We performed all over Europe, especially in Italy, Germany and France, did a lot of radio work, and beginning in 1980 we began to tour extensively under the auspices of the Goethe Institute, with concerts in India, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Sudan. On these long tours, Margriet was always in her element: curious, open, fun-loving, hard-working and dependable. We all worked hard and partied hard (ah, to be young again). It was at this time that we made our first recording, ‘Minstrels and Clerics’, and later the ‘Trouvères’ set of three LPs (joined by Wendy Gillespie), for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. 

When Crawford left the ensemble in 1981 we were able to convince David Hart to come to Germany and join us, and there followed a period of intense activity and many important projects: the first Hildegard von Bingen recordings, the first staging and TV film of ‘Ordo Virtutum’ (joined by Sarah Cunningham), the recording of German ‘Spruchdichter’, and more tours with Goethe Institute, including a memorable one-month tour of Brazil, and a first big tour of the USA. Margriet and David became very close (and bonded over their many shared cigarette pauses) and their playing together was sublime. But David was not happy in Germany and returned to NYC in the fall of 1982 — it was a sad farewell. The memory of that period is even more bittersweet as I realize that I am now the only surviving member of that quartet. This was when Sequentia became a trio, a formation with Margriet which was to last for several more years. We made new programs which really featured Margriet’s unique gifts (especially the German program called ‘Der Wanderer’), and we found that this tighter formation was also more suitable for long tours (six weeks in South America, the first of many Vancouver Early Music Festival courses in 1984 (where we realized that she was an amazing teacher as well as performer), many tours of the US and Canada, and finally, a first tour of Japan. Margriet was as solid as a rock and as brilliant as fireworks on all these long tours -- it was a real pleasure and inspiration to share the stage with her. Margriet was an integral part of several staged productions of Hildegard’s ‘Ordo Virtutum’, in North America and Europe, and recordings such as ‘English Songs of the Middle Ages’, ‘Philippe le Chancelier’, the new staging of a Marian laments, the Cividale ‘Planctus Marie’ (a project for which Shira Kammen joined forces with Margriet), and songs from the late medieval Rheinland women’s tradition, accompanying Barbara's women’s vocal ensemble ‘Vox Femine’, numerous radio and TV appearances in Germany (it seemed like we were in West Berlin every other week). Looking back, we all now see that the 1980’s and early 1990’s were a ‘golden age’ for musical performance.

On one of our US tours, she was hosted in Seattle by a charming fellow named Dick Templeton, and the rest is history. Margriet’s move to Seattle was gradual, but by mid-1987 we could no longer sustain the long-distance collaboration — an era had come to an end. Those were nine huge years in the history of our ensemble, and Margriet’s contribution was an essential part of everything we did, her strong musical and personal presence a constant and supportive force, her generosity and charisma an inspiration. She had the highest standards for herself and inspired us all to do the same. All of us who knew her from those times remember her dynamism, her effortless musicality and instrumental mastery, and we are grateful to have traveled that part of our lives together with her. She will be missed and remembered lovingly by all of us who survive her. 

Ben Bagby (Paris, January 2015)

Upcoming Concerts

05 October 2017
Paris (FR), Musée de Cluny
Monks Singing Pagans

09 to 13 October 2017
Venice (IT), Fondazione Cini
Seminar Roman de Fauvel

20 April 2018
Konstanz, D
Oswald in Konstanz

See full concert schedule



Benjamin Bagby's recent activities as teacher/lecturer, linked to his performances

At the invitation of the music department, Benjamin taught a performance workshop on the music of Hildegard von Bingen for students at Princeton University (29 March), where he also performed 'Beowulf' in a collaborative production with digital light designer Craig Winslow. Following this, at the invitation of the medieval studies program and the English department, he gave a lecture on his work with reconstructing the 'Beowulf' performance, at Yale University (3 April).

At the Université Paris – Sorbonne, where Benjamin is on the faculty, the yearly 'Entretiens de la musique ancienne' were held this year in honor of his life-long work with reconstructing 'lost songs'. The main event was his performance of 'Beowulf' (11 May), with French video titles, in the Amphithéâtre Richelieu of the Sorbonne, followed by two days of symposium at the university's Centre Clignancourt, sponsored by the historical music organization IREMUS and the musicology department of the university. During this symposium, Benjamin gave a lecture on his work with reconstructed harps and the kinds of clues they can provide ('Beowulf ': dans l'atelier d'un conteur d'histoires).


2017 Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship awarded by Early Music America to string-player Allison Monroe

This scholarship is given by EMA to “an outstanding and highly-motivated (and possibly unconventional) young performer of medieval music who seeks to widen his/her experience through more advanced study and/or auditions in Europe.”  The recipient is chosen by a jury of musicians who knew or worked with the great medieval music specialist and teacher, Barbara Thornton (1950-1998), who co-founded Sequentia together with Benjamin Bagby in 1977. Read more about Allison here.

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