Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

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Sequentia celebrates its 39th anniversary in March 2016



Representation (Europe)

Sophie Lanoote
Management artistique | conseil | production
45, bd Victor Hugo | 92110 Clichy | France
Tel +33 (0)1 41 40 94 88
Skype : galateamusic

(exclusive of Europe)

Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
4592 Hampton Ave.
Montréal, QC
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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Voices from the Island Sanctuary: Paris (1170-1230)
Premiere in Paris on 20 November 2009

Benjamin Bagby voice, harp
Justin Bonnet voice
Josep Cabre voice
Vincent Pislar voice
Wolodymyr Smishkewych voice, organistrum
Michael Loughton Smith voice

For centuries, Parisians and visitors to Paris have been thrilled by the imposing Cathedral of Notre Dame, whose massive towers and elegant flying buttresses dominate the Ile de la Cité. We perceive the cathedral as a large church, a single building surrounded by city streets, kitschy souvenir shops, overpriced cafés, a park with romantic benches for lovers, a popular rollerblade slalom course, and the long lines of tourists waiting to climb the towers. But in the 12th century, the cathedral of Notre Dame was situated within its own ‘campus’, a vast complex of interconnected buildings (including several smaller churches) surrounding the cathedral itself, all encircled by a wall and enclosing almost one full third of the island. Within these walls (the ‘close’ of the cathedral precinct) there existed an autonomous mini-state, with its own laws and enforcement, free from the secular power wielded by the French king residing nearby; with housing and meals for the hundreds of clerics who worked and lived there; with an army of servants to keep the whole place operating smoothly; with students from many countries following lectures in theology and philosophy; with aristocratic churchmen called canons, managing their vast estates and political intrigues from comfortable dwellings within the close. There was a school for the choirboys, a private port on the Seine, and the palace of the archbishop himself, where important guests were entertained and where the brightest, most ambitious spirits of learning and the arts were able to demonstrate their virtuosity. Latin – spoken and sung in a variety of accents and with varying degrees of elegance – was the official language of the community, but courtly French could also be heard, and even the rude dialect of the city was felt in subtle ways. The cathedral itself (the present structure was begun in the 1160’s and the towers were not finished until at least 1250) was at the heart of this city within a city, and deep within the cathedral was yet another walled precint: the choir before the high altar, where the singing of the mass and offices was carried out night and day by a large number of canons and lesser clergy who were rewarded in return for this service. It was in this enclosed space that the best young male vocalists in Europe were to be heard on important feast-days; it was here that the most innovative musical minds gave expression to new ideas in thrilling sonic structures which echoed the dynamic new architecture surrounding them.

The so-called ‘phenomenon of Notre-Dame’ was felt throughout Europe, as foreign students returned to assume high positions in their homelands following their studies in Paris, and as international links were strengthened within the church itself; as always, it was the new ideas from Paris which resonated most strongly in other western European centres of learning and culture. Reflecting this, we find music and poetry from Notre-Dame in medieval manuscripts from such centers as Toledo (Spain), St. Andrews (Scotland), Germany and even Poland. And of course, the long and complex relationship between the cathedral in Paris and the papal curia in Rome also provided a fruitful background for musical performance.

The program will include liturgical and non-liturgical polyphony and song from Notre Dame, from the nearby monastic church of St. Victor, from the archbishop’s palace, from the streets of the city, the university, and the courts of the French king. The sections of the program will be as follows:

1. Students and Clerics in the City

2. Sacred (and not so sacred): the sounds of new music

3. Eros, ambition and temptation

4. Philosophers, controversial professors and angry young men

5. The art of sacred misbehaviour

This new program (available beginning in December 2009) will celebrate both the 32nd anniversary of Sequentia’s first concert as well as the debut of the ensemble’s newly-formed ensemble of men’s voices based in Paris.

Upcoming Concerts

8 September 2015
Moscow, Russia

20 October 2015
Copenhagen, Denmark

13 November 2015
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

14 November 2015
Cleveland, Ohio

17 November 2015
Akron, Ohio

See full concert schedule



Beowulf in Russia

On 8 September 2015, Benjamin Bagby will perform Beowulf for the first time in the Russian Federation, in the Tchaikowsky Conservatory in Moscow. Following this, Bagby will coach an ensemble of Moscow early music performers for the festival La Renaissance, in preparation for their Russian premiere of the 'Roman de Fauvel' on 12 September in Moscow. For this significant event, Bagby will also be working with Russian instrumentalists Ivan Velikanov, Danil Ryabchikov and French vocalist Marc Mauillon.


Bagby at Cambridge University

On 28-29 September 2015, Benjamin Bagby will be at Cambridge University, working with musicologist Sam Barrett on their joint project to reconstruct the 'metra' from the Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius. There will also be a presentation of works in progress for Cambridge musicology students on 28 September. For these sessions, Bagby & Barrett will be joined by Swiss vocalist/harpist Hanna Marti, who is working on a similar project involving the Metamorphoses of Ovid.


Teaching in Basel

Benjamin Bagby will be teaching again in Basel, Switzerland, at his alma mater, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, on 2-3 November 2015 (co-teaching with colleague Norbert Rodenkirchen) and again 18-19 January 2016. The subject will be the songs of Philippe le Chancelier (d. 1236), both monophonic and polyphonic.


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