Sequentia

Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

English | Français
Sequentia celebrates its 40th anniversary in March 2017
 
 

Contact

E-mail: info@sequentia.org

Representation
(Europe)

Katja Zimmermann
VCzimmermann@gmx.net

Representation
(exclusive of Europe)

Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
4592 Hampton Ave.
Montréal, QC, Canada
www.sethcooperarts.com
sethcooper.arts@gmail.com
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
jon@aaronconcert.com

 

Follow us on Facebook

Projects

The Hildegard von Bingen project (1982-2012)

Since the early 1980’s, Sequentia’s name has been closely linked with the music of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), the visionary abbess and healer whose spiritual compositions are among the most astonishing and unique creations from the dynamic milieu of 12th-century Benedictine monasticism. Hildegard referred to her songs collectively as ‘The Harmonious Music of Celestial Revelations’ (symphoniae harmoniae celestium revelationum), a title meant to indicate their divine inspiration as well as the idea that music is the highest form of human activity, mirroring the ineffable sounds of heavenly spheres, angelic choirs and the individual human soul. Between 1151 and 1158 this visionary ‘Sibyl of the Rhine’ began to collect her musical creations, most of them intended to be sung by the sisters of her convent at the Rupertsberg (on the Rhine at Bingen), as a complement to the traditional Gregorian chant sung during liturgical and other functions. Anyone who has sung her music knows that it counts among the most sublime, virtuosic and demanding vocal repertoires ever created. “It is said that you are raised to Heaven, that much is revealed to you, that you bring forth great writings, and discover new manners of song…” wrote Master Odo of Paris in 1148. Then, as now, Hildegard was admired for fearlessly exploring the soul’s place in the cosmos and giving it voice through her unique musical vision.

Sequentia was among the first vocal ensembles to revive Hildegard’s music in our time, working closely from the medieval manuscript sources and employing concepts of performance practice which would have been known to the abbess and her Benedictine sisters in the 12th century. Under the general direction of the late Barbara Thornton, and working closely with musicologists and philologists (especially Leo Treitler, Peter Dronke and Barbara Stühlmeyer) many of the world’s foremost vocalists and instrumentalists in historical music performance joined Sequentia to perform and record Hildegard’s works on a regular basis between 1982 and 2012 (see list of musicians below). From the beginning, the entire project was supported generously by the West German Radio in Cologne (producers Alfred Krings and Klaus L Neumann), which co-produced most of the recordings on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label. In addition to recording, the ensemble toured widely to critical acclaim in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan.

The Sequentia recordings of Hildegard’s works are contained on 8 releases (more than eleven hours of music) for the DHM label and include all of Hildegard’s 77 symphoniae as well as her music drama Ordo Virtutum (recorded twice, with an interval of 15 years between the two radically different productions). One of these releases, Canticles of Ecstasy, received several international awards (including an Edison Prize, a Disque d’Or, and a Grammy nomination for best choral recording) and has sold more than a million copies worldwide.

In 2009 an anthology, made up of exceptional tracks from six of Sequentia’s releases on DHM, was released to highlight not only Hildegard’s melodic and textual genius, but also the striking varieties of mode, structure, color, and scale which define her work. Complete program notes and a more profound look at Hildegard’s music can be found in the detailed booklets of the original Sequentia CDs – all still available on DHM -- from which this anthology was made.

In 2012 the final recording of the complete works, Celestial Hierarchy was brought to life by Sequentia’s co-founder and director Benjamin Bagby to commemorate the elevation of Hildegard von Bingen to Sainthood and Doctor Ecclesiae (2012), to finish Sequentia’s complete works project on the DHM label (now Sony), and thus to honour the life’s work of Barbara Thornton (1950-1998). For this recording, a multi-generational ensemble of seven women’s voices was assembled under Bagby’s direction, together with the flautist Norbert Rodenkirchen and Bagby playing harp. One of the singers on this final recording had been a member of Barbara Thornton’s ensemble, while some others were not yet born when the first recording was made in 1982. 

The Sequentia recordings of Hildegard’s complete musical works are now contained on 8 releases for the DHM label and include all of Hildegard’s 77 symphoniae as well as her music drama Ordo Virtutum -- almost 12 hours of music. One of these releases, Canticles of Ecstasy, received numerous international awards (including an Edison Prize, a Disque d’Or, and a Grammy nomination for best choral recording) and sold more than a million copies worldwide.

Hildegard von Bingen releases on DHM
(with year of recording/release)

Ordo Virtutum (1982/83) 2 LPs [not included in the complete works]
Symphoniae (1982-3/85)
Canticles of Ecstasy (1993/94)
Voice of the Blood (1994/95)
O Jerusalem (1995/97)
Saints (1996/98) 2 CDs
Ordo Virtutum (1997/98)
Visions of Paradise (anthology, 2009) [not included in the complete works]
Celestial Hierarchy (2012/13)

Musicians featured on Sequentia’s Hildegard Project recordings

Women’s voices: Gundula Anders, Rebecca Bain, Lydia Brotherton, Agnethe Christensen, Pamela Dellal, Suzanne Ehly, Jill Feldman, Elizabeth Glen, Ellen Hargis, Maria Jonas, Lydia Heather Knutson, Esther Labourdette, Guillemette Laurens, Theresa Lister, Sabine Lutzenberger, Nancy Mayer, Laurie Monahan, Christine Mothes, Elodie Mourot, Marianne Nielsen, Lena Susanne Norin, Caitriona O’Leary, Lucia Pahn, Margaret Raines, Sally Sanford, Consuelo Sañudo, Carol Schlaikjer, Diane Severson, Allegra Silbiger, Candace Smith, Barbara Thornton (director), Caroline Trevor, Janet Youngdahl.

Men’s voices: Benjamin Bagby (director), John Fleagle, Stephen Grant, Paul Guttry, Peter Halpern, William Hite, Frank Kelley, Wolfgang Kläsener, Stefan Klöckner, Klaus Lohmann, Eric Mentzel, Mark McSweeney, Peter Schmitz, Bernhard Schneider, Bernhard Schüth, Burkhard Wiggeshoff.

Instrumentalists: Benjamin Bagby (harp & organistrum), Sarah Cunningham (fiddle), Liane Ehlich (flute), Rachel Evans (fiddle), Elizabeth Gaver (fiddle), David Hart (flute), Joachim Kühn (organistrum), Na’ama Lion (flute) Robert Mealy (fiddle), Elisabetta de Mircovich (fiddle), Norbert Rodenkirchen (flute), Barbara Thornton (portative organ), Margriet Tindemans (fiddle).

Upcoming Concerts

9 June 2017
Essen-Werden (DE), St. Lucius Kirche
Beowulf

25 August 2017
Basel (CH), Festtage Alte Musik
Endzeitfragmente

See full concert schedule

 

News

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