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


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From the Press

US Tour 2011

Benjamin Bagby’s superb medieval-music ensemble

The New Yorker (January 2011)

Mr. Bagby, who played the harp, and his five colleagues…sang with flair throughout the evening,

New York Times (25/01/11)

To listeners accustomed to the ethereal, disembodied sound heard in popular recordings of “Gregorian Chants to Soothe the Soule” (etc.), Sequentia’s sound — vigorous and virile — will come as a bit of a shock. … Harmonies, when used, were spare, diatonic, and often surprisingly dissonant.

…the lovely sequence Ave gloriosa virginum regina by Philippe le Chancelier, which opened the program, extolled the Virgin Mary in downright sensual poetry sung to the accompaniment of a hurdy-gurdy.

…throughout the program, careful attention was paid to the declamation and rhetoric of the texts. (26/01/2011)

Leave it to Benjamin Bagby, artistic director of the venerated Medieval music ensemble Sequentia, to devise spellbinding programs.

…the program's sacred and profane songs came across with hypnotic immediacy.

What the music revealed was the richness of expression and unusually energetic activity that emanated from the Parisian island during the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Plain Dealer / Cleveland (26/01/2011)

The impact of the music on this occasion was a testament to the refined urgency that has been a hallmark of Sequentia.

Bagby exudes flesh-and-blood intensity both as solo singer – his one-man Beowulf a decade ago was a dazzling achievement – and collaborator. He was the potent narrator Tuesday in the whimsical "Olim sudor Herculis," which finds Hercules and other hapless suitors at Venus' amorous beck and call.

Babgy's Sequentia colleagues – Josep Cabre, Vincent Pislar, Wolodymyr Smishkewych, Michael Loughlin Smith and Mathias Spoerry – were sophisticated and impassioned equals in vocal matters.

Director Benjamin Bagby has bet his life’s work that scholarship and musicianship can co-exist on a musical stage. On Friday night, The Friends of Chamber Music brought Bagby and Sequentia to a packed house at Grace and Holy Trinity Church. It was the perfect forum to showcase the ensemble’s signature ability to take listeners to surprising places. Sequentia’s work satisfies on every level: followers of the venerable ensemble know what to expect, and first-time patrons soon appreciate the depth to which Sequentia prepares a program. Bagby brings inventiveness and flair (yes, flair!) to medieval music, making it positively thrilling to sense the performers’ and listeners’ commitment to the music.

Much of the music resonated in a very human way, contextualized so that modern listeners might believe these “voices from Notre Dame” had similar weaknesses and shared familiar concerns.

An audience might expect that monophonic singing is simplistic and dull, but the clarity of this music refreshes and moves the imagination; it is humbling in its purity. Centuries fell away with the first utterances, as modern sensibility alongside some dramatic posturing brought this praise song to life. The rhythmic inflections imposed on the music were subtle and almost lilting at times…the audience seemed fixated.

Listeners appreciate a concert like this for all it represents: inquiry, exploration, and adventure—all in service to music that deserves to be heard. Ancient social and musical myths will undoubtedly continue to reverberate in the minds of this modern audience. In such a clever reconstruction, where scholarship and speculation merge, no one seems to mind the questions left unanswered. After all, who would want all of these mysteries to be definitively solved? We would rather keep enjoying how alive this ancient music still feels, open to hearing again and again the learned interpretations of the who, when, and why of it all.


Upcoming Concerts

30 September 2018
New York City (Music Before 1800)

17 October 2018
London (British Library)

7 December 2018
Amherst, MA / Amherst College
Monks singing pagans

14 December 2018
Gdansk, Poland / Actus Humanus Nativitas
Monks singing pagans

See full concert schedule



Benjamin Bagby's teaching activities in 2018

In addition to his teaching position at the University of Paris - Sorbonne, where he has taught since 2005 in the professional masters program, Benjamin Bagby travels widely in 2018 to teach other practical workshops for young professionals:

Milano, Scuola Civica di Musica (Milano, Italy) 29-31 January
The troubadours of the Milano manuscript R71 sup. (late 13th century)

Folkwang Universität der Künste (Essen-Werden, Germany) April-June
Benjamin will join the faculty of this renowned masters program for liturgical chant performance and medieval music, specializing this year in music from Notre Dame of Paris. The dates of his courses: 13-14 April, 18-20 May, 28-30 May and 15-17 June. More information

Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Basel, Switzerland) 25-26 May

7th International Course on Medieval Music Performance (Besalú, Spain) .
Music relating to the idea of the Crusades, especially in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

Amherst Early Music Festival (Connecticut College, New London CT) 15-21 July
An intensive course on the Roman de Fauvel (14th century)
July 21, 2018, 1 pm "Roman de Fauvel project" (student performance)

Burg Fürsteneck, Germany (31 August to 02 September
Fortbildung zur Musik des Mittelalters / Roman de Fauvel (guest instructor)

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