Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

English | Français
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


Follow us on Facebook


Fragments for the End of Time


Instrumental piece based on a Frankish sequence melody (10th c.)
Source: St. Gall / Reconstruction: N. Rodenkirchen.

No instrumental music survives in written form from the period before 1200, and yet we know that instrumental music was performed with great sophistication. We can use various resources to make reconstructions of lost traditions: in the earliest sequelae sources, we find pieces with exotic titles, attesting to their popularity, or to an association with a certain story, an instrument, or a mythological character. When religious sequence texts were added later (and the melodies were finally written down), the titles fell into disuse. The exact nature of these titles will always remain a mystery which stimulates the imagination of musicians today. The tune Occidentana is found in several sources, sometimes under the name Cithara (= harp). To honor this ancient piece, Norbert Rodenkirchen performs it here on a tiny flute made from a delicate swan’s bone. The remains of just such an instrument, dating from the 11th century, were found in a castle near the ancient city of Speyer, Germany.

Iudicii signum

‚The Prophecy of the Erythraean Sybil’ (Aquitaine, 11th century)
Source: Paris, BN lat. 1154 / Transcription: Sam Barrett

This is the prophecy of the Erythraen Sybil, a pagan female oracle said to have lived at the time of Troy, whose words are transmitted by St. Augustine (The City of God, XVIII, 23) in an acrostic poem. This medieval version, which includes a refrain, was sung in Aquitanian cloisters during the liturgy for the massacre of the Holy Innocents (28 December), a feast closely associated with apocalyptic themes.


[Refrain]: Judgement shall come, and the sweat of the earth will be its signal.

Even the monarch eternal shall come from the heavens, suddenly come, in His flesh, to the dreaded tribunal. Faithful and faithless alike shall be seeing their maker uplifted with heavenly friends at the end of the ages. Souls with their bodies conjoined shall he summon to judgement. Riches will be rejected and long-cherished idols. Enormous the blaze that shall burn the broad seas and the heavens; its terrible blasts shall break open the portals of Hades. Saints in their flesh shall shine free in the light of this wildfire, the same that shall roast without ending the flesh of the wicked. Each man shall openly speak of his most secret wrongdoing, and God shall open their hearts. Gnashing of teeth shall resound and most horrible weeping. Even the sun shall not shine and the stars will be silent; the moonlight finished; the sky wrapped in darkness. The valleys will be leveled, the hilltops cast down, and all human affairs ended. The mountains will sink down into the fields and the seas. Over and done with the earth and the whole of its holdings. Springs, sources and rivers will all be boiling with fire. The horn shall sound from the highest heaven over the criminal damned as they wander sadly. The kings of the world will be judged before God. The quake-shaken earth will open to reveal the pit of hell, while rivers of hot sulphur and fire fall from the heavens.

Translation: B. Bagby (based on E.M. Sanford & W.M. Green)

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.

More news