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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Fragments for the End of Time

Scalam ad caelos

Instrumental piece based on a 9th century Frankish sequence melody
Source: Notker’s Scalam ad caelos (Transcription: R. Crocker) / Reconstruction: Bagby & Rodenkirchen

Here, we reconstruct what could have been an instrumental tradition of Frankish minstrels, using a melody which survived when it was adapted for a sequence by the poet-monk Notker of St. Gall. Although we will never learn the story behind the original melody, we do know of the the power that such tunes had over the centuries, both within the church and ouside it.

Summi regis archangele Michahel

Sequenz ‚quam Alcuinus composuit Karolo Imperatori’ [Sequence‚ which Alcuin composed for the emperor Charlemagne], (Einsiedeln, 10th c., but possibly created earlier: late 8th century)
Source: Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek Codex 121 (10th c.) / Transcription: N. Rodenkirchen

This is one of the most widely-known sequences of the Middle Ages. In the dedication to Charlemagne, attributed to the monk Alcuin, we learn that the emperor is compared to the archangel Michael, who defeated the dragon for the redemption of mankind. We might see the medieval fascination with Christian dragon-killers (also with snakes and dragon-like beasts, especially in connection with the End of Time) as a lingering, subconscious element of pagan culture and mythology. In the case of Summi regis we may have before us an original sequence by Alcuin (who was active among the literati at the court of Charlemagne from 782-789), making it also the earliest-known sequence by a known author to have survived.


Archangel of the Highest King, Michael, listen to our voices, we beseech.

We indeed proclaim you are the prince of the citizens on high. For our sake implore God that he send his help to the wretched.

A princely power has been given to you by the Lord, to save sinning souls. You also have, in perpetuity, pride of place in paradise:all the citizens on high honour you.

In the temple of God you were seen to holda golden censer in your hands. From this the smoke, arising with great fragrance, made its way up to the gaze of God.

When you finished your battle against the great dragon, out of his jaws you plucked many souls. Then a vast silence was brought about in heaven; thousands upon thousands said ‘Glory to the King our Lord!’

Hear us, Michael, highest of angels: come down a little from heaven’s throne, bringing us the strength of the Lord and the relief of his tenderness. Gabriel, lay low our enemies, Raphael, bring a remedy to the sick, purge our diseases, lighten our injuries, and let us take part in the joys of the blessed!

Emperor, your sage plays you these melodies.

Translation: Peter Dronke

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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