Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

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Sequentia celebrated 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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The Ensemble

Sequentia is one of the world’s most respected and innovative ensembles for medieval music. It is an international group of singers and instrumentalists – united in Paris under the direction of the legendary performer and teacher Benjamin Bagby – dedicated to the performance and recording of Western European music from the period before 1300. The size and disposition of the ensemble is determined by the repertoire being performed, and ranges between an instrumental/vocal duo to a large vocal ensemble. Based on meticulous and original research, intensive rehearsal and long gestation, Sequentia’s virtuosic performances are compelling, surprising in their immediacy, and strike the listener with a timeless emotional connection to our own past musical cultures. More


Sequentia & Peter Sellars: Roman de Fauvel

Fauvel is a monstrous and stupid beast, the leader of a land where lies and corruption triumph happily. He is supported by a host of ministers, power brokers and multi-millionaires who shamelessly flatter him, carefully rubbing him up the right way, and polish his backside taking great care never to ruffle his feathers. Meanwhile, chaos triumphs as the nation comes apart. This strikingly modern story was bequeathed to us 700 years ago by a handful of artists and intellectuals who wrote and circulated a strange and subversive satire: the Roman de Fauvel, a sumptuous manuscript of which, with its jumble of texts, illustrated vignettes and musical scores, is kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

More about the program

More about the performance


Hus in himile: Apocalyptic Songs from German Cloisters (9th-11th centuries)

The long Covid confinement of 2020 has fostered reflections on the fragility of the world, and given a rebirth to the legendary Sequentia program and CD, 'Fragments for the End of Time' (Endzeit Fragmente). Vocalist/harper Benjamin Bagby und flautist Norbert Rodenkirchen will be joined by vocalist Jasmina Črnčič and multi-instrumentalist Ian Harrison (Les Haulz et las Bas) to explore the musical world of surprising, powerful, apocalyptic texts from medieval German cloisters.

From the time of Christianity's introduction into Europe until the end of the first millennium, apocalyptic images of the End of Time and the Last Judgement were widespread, both in texts and in the visual arts. These powerful Christian images, based largely on the Biblical Revelation of John, at times bear a remarkable similarity to the pagan-germanic description of the world's destruction during the final battle fought by the gods and giants of Norse mythology. It is a musical tradition steeped in mystery, with a special dreamlike quality, including descriptions of the celestial heavens but also firmly rooted in the violent world as it was known. There are also tender promises of a blessed afterlife, an end to sickness and suffering, and even a 'hus in himile' (home in heaven).These are songs from a thousand years ago and more, when men and women were expecting the world to end, and the singer's duty was to prepare them, warn them and yet also, to console.

The premiere of this program will take place on 18 March 2021, in Cologne, Germany, as part of the ZAMUS Early Music Festival.


Beowulf: The Epic in Performance

Benjamin Bagby's January 2020 performance of 'Beowulf' in New York City (92nd St. Y) will be streamed on Thursday, 20 August. Recommended by the New York Times under 'Things to do this week'

NEW PROGRAMS for 2019-20

Oswald in Constance

Following a commission from the city of Konstanz (Germany) in 2018, Sequentia created a special program around the Tirolian nobleman, poet and songmaker Oswald von Wolkenstein (early 15th century), who was present at the epochal Council of Constance, where he certainly entertained churchmen and nobles with his biting satire and social commentary. More

Words of Power – Charms, Riddles and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands

Following a ten-day rehearsal and teaching residency at Swarthmore College (USA), Sequentia will give the world premiere of a new program called 'Charms, Riddles and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands' on 1 March 2019. For this new program, the Sequentia trio of Bagby, Rodenkirchen and Marti will be joined by the English vocalist Stef Conner. More

Le Roman de Fauvel

Returning to a theme which Sequentia has explored before, in concert and in recordings, we will expand the ensemble of men's voices to perform music from the 14th century Roman de Fauvel. This project is currently planned for summer and autumn of 2020, which promises to be a time of political upheaval very much in the spirit of Fauvel and its world of corruption, lies and the abuse of power. More details forthcoming in late 2019. More


Boethius: Songs of Consolation

Following years of intensive collaboration with University of Cambridge musicologist Sam Barrett, Sequentia releases Boethius: Songs of Consolation.

Based on an 11th century manuscript from Canterbury, transcribed here for the first time after 1000 years of silence, Sequentia brings to life the vitality and depth of Boethius’s famous text about the nature of man in the universe, of good and evil, of fate and justice. More


Links & Reviews

Restoring Lost Songs: Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy (University of Cambridge)

Sequentia makes an ancient world timeless and transcendent (New Yotk Classical Review: Top Ten Performances of 2017)

Restoring Lost Songs from Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy (1) - Carmina qui quondam, Sequentia (Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, video)

Restoring Lost Songs from Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy (2) - Benjamin Bagby (Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, video)

Boethius's 'The Consolation of Philosophy' in music, (BBC, audio)


Benjamin Bagby featured in new recording of medieval Danish song

In 2017 Benjamin joined the ensemble Peregrina (Basel), under the direction of its founder Agnieszka Budzinska-Bennett, in a recording project focused on medieval music from the Baltic area: Mare Balticum, vol. 1: Music in Medieval Denmark. It has recently been issued on the Tacet label, with excellent reviews so far. Many congratulations to Agnieszka and her colleagues!

One review of the CD has this to say about Benjamin's contribution:

“...and Benjamin Bagby, as scholar and interpreter one of the great masters of this repertoire, doesn't need to be asked twice: he is a magnificent storyteller and brings to this project his harmonically-rounded baritone in all its glory, with incredible stature and authority. Playfully and full of life, he animates the rigid forms of regular textual structures – or: he pulverises them, according to the perspective. As an example of this last observation: he breathes life into the almost 15-minute long textual mass of the Michael Beheim ballad 'Von meiner mervart'... “

Read the original reviews (in German) on (by Matthias Lange) and Klassik heute (by Detmar Huchting).


Hildegard von Bingen

Sequentia’s 9-CD recording of the complete works of Hildegard was awarded a DIAPASON D’OR by the French magazine Diapason (November 2017).

Read the review


The Complete Works of Hildegard von Bingen, recorded by Sequentia and newly-released on 9 CDs by Sony in 2017.

In September 2017, just in time for her feast-day on 17 September, Sony released a 9-CD deluxe box set containing the complete Sequentia recordings of Hildegard von Bingen's musical works, the Symphonia and the drama Ordo Virtutum, together with all the booklets from the original CDs (in English, French and German) in a newly-designed book format.

The sung texts, in the original Latin and with translations into English, French and German, are available as a free PDF on the Sequentia website.

This monumental recording project, which began in Cologne in 1982 (with WDR Köln and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi) culminated in the final recording released by Sony in 2013. On nine CDs containing almost twelve hours of music, the musicians of Sequentia can be heard, under the direction of Barbara Thornton and Benjamin Bagby, in these legendary recordings. Over the course of 31 years, almost 60 vocalists and instrumentalists participated in this project. Read more about it here.


Roman de Fauvel

Music and Corruption in Paris at the Court of Philip the Fair (1300-1315)

The Seminar, directed by Pedro Memelsdorff, will consist in master-classes, lectures and workshops by three of the main experts in the field: Benjamin Bagby, founder and director of the ensemble Sequentia, Margaret Bent and Anna Zayaruznaya (eminent musicologists at the Universities of Oxford and Yale).

Venice (IT), Fondazione Cini, 09 to 13 October 2017


Excerpts from Sequentia's first demo recordings (1978-79)

By Benjamim Bagby

For the ensemble's 40th anniversary in 2017, my colleague Norbert Rodenkirchen encouraged me to rummage in the Sequentia tape archive in Cologne and see what old recordings were lying around. I found two of our oldest demos, on reel-to-reel tapes. Norbert took the fragile tapes to the renowned Topaz Studio in Cologne, where sound engineer Reinhard Kobialka was able to save most of the deteriorated sounds. Still, one hears the hand of time in these old recordings. Norbert had the idea to use the old label of the demo as an image. The list was written on our old mechanical typewriter, and the lettering done by hand, with Letraset (considered very hightech in pre-computer times). More


Lost Voices from the Middle Ages

Review by Anja Wernicke of the Sequentia concert in Basel, Switzerland, where the REMA Early Music Artist Award for 2016 has been presented to Benjamin Bagby. Read it here (in German).


Benjamin Bagby receives REMA award

The REMA Early Music Artist Award for 2016 has been presented to Benjamin Bagby during a ceremony in Basel, Switzerland, on 17 March 2017. On this occasion the Swiss Radio SRF 2 Kultur aired a feature program authored by Jenny Berg. You can listen to it here (in German).


Schola Cantorum Basiliensis

Benjamin Bagby writes about the origins of the ensemble at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland. Read it here (PDF).


Sequentia featured in radio tribute

Benjamin Bagby and Sequentia will be the focus of the program WDR 3 Vesper on 11 March, 2017. The show will feature interviews made with Bagby over the years, and a selection of Sequentia’s recording for the WDR (with whom the ensemble has had a working relationship since its beginnings in Köln in the late 1970’s).


Sorbonne honors Bagby

Benjamin Bagby honored as a ‘professeur distingué’ by the University of Paris - Sorbonne, in recognition of his recent REMA award. He has been on the faculty of the Sorbonne since 2005, where he teaches performance practice in the master’s program for medieval music.


Benjamin Bagby to receive prestigious award

Sequentia’s co-founder and artistic director Benjamin Bagby has been awarded the REMA Early Music Artist Award for 2016. It will be presented to him during a ceremony in Basel, Switzerland, on 17 March 2017 (the same day as Sequentia’s performance of ‘Monks Singing Pagans’ for the Freunde Alte Musik Basel). REMA is the largest European early music network. See an interview with Benjamin here.


Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy

After more than two decades of painstaking work on identifying the techniques used to set particular verse forms, research undertaken by Cambridge University’s Dr Sam Barrett has enabled him to reconstruct melodies from the rediscovered leaf of the 11th century ‘Cambridge Songs'. Sequentia (Benjamin Bagby, Hanna Marti and Norbert Rodenkirchen) presented the Boethian songs at a concert held in Cambridge on 23 April 2016, and again on 2 July, as part of a symposium on medieval Latin song. An informal rehearsal video made by the university became a YouTube sensation (see below), with over 500, 000 views so far.More

Reconstructing the Songs

A documentary charting the reconstruction of early medieval Latin song repertories and melodies for Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy with Sequentia and Dr Sam Barrett of the University of Cambridge.


Monks Singing Pagans

When we think of medieval monks and their musical lives, the first thing to come to mind is Gregorian chant, but a closer look at medieval monastic manuscripts from the 9th to 12th centuries shows that many monks were singing other songs as well, with texts which were sometimes anything but Christian. The medieval monastic and cathedral schools of medieval Europe were great centers of learning and focal points of intellectual life. For all monks and clerics, who were native speakers of European vernacular languages, it was essential to become bilingual, to speak, think, perhaps even to read and write in Latin, the language of their faith, the liturgy, the sciences, philosophy and literature. More


The Voyager: Medieval Songs of Exile, Wandering and Travel

In January 2015 Benjamin Bagby premiered a new solo program at the Musée de Cluny in Paris: the theme was travel and the songs of travellers in the Middle Ages. The live concert was filmed by Laurent Hadrien and a short film has been produced, with excerpts from the performance and added commentary by Bagby.


Beowulf at the Utrecht Early Music Festival

On 29-30 August, Benjamin Bagby celebrated the 25th anniversary of his first performance of Beowulf at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, performing again to sold-out houses in Utrecht's RASA Theatre. See the festival's promotional video in which Bagby appears to discuss his work:

Review in the Spanish daily El Paìs


Collected Stories: Hero

Bagby's Beowulf performed in Carnegie Hall, New York City

On 22 April Benjamin Bagby performed a version of Beowulf as part of a series of concerts curated by American composer David Lang.

New York Times review

This concert was listed among the 'Ten Best Classical Music Events of 2014' by the New York Times!


Hildegard von Bingen: Celestial Hierarchy

The final CD of Sequentia's Hildegard von Bingen complete works project was recorded for DHM/SONY in November 2012 in the church of Franc-Warêt, Belgium. It was released in May 2013 as a single CD. The completion of this enormous project, begun by Sequentia in 1982, represents the culmination of the life's work of the late Barbara Thornton and also celebrates Hildegard's elevation to sainthood and magistra ecclesiae in 2012. A multi-generational ensemble of women's voices plus the flautist Norbert Rodenkirchen was united under the direction of Benjamin Bagby for this unique recording whose title is 'Celestial Hierarchy'. More

Upcoming Concerts

22 August 2024
Brauweiler, Germany (Abteikirche St. Nikolaus Brauweiler), 7.30 pm
Musen der Sphären (World Premiere)

24 October 2024
Prague, University of Prague (Boethius 150th anniversary)
Boethius - Songs of Consolation (Quartet)

14 February 2025
Kulturzentrum Peterskirche, Kempen
Musen der Sphären

See full concert schedule



Benjamin Bagby's teaching activities in 2019

In March 2019, Benjamin will give two weekend courses on the solo songs of Philippe le Chancelier (d. 1236). The courses are being hosted by the Centre de Musique Médiévale de Paris. Dates: 9-10 and 30-31 March.
More information

After retiring from his teaching position at the University of Paris - Sorbonne, where he taught between 2005 and 2018 in the professional masters program, Benjamin Bagby continues to travel widely in 2019 to teach practical workshops for young professionals:

Folkwang Universität der Künste (Essen-Werden, Germany).
Benjamin has joined the faculty of this renowned masters program for liturgical chant performance and medieval music. The dates of his courses in 2019: 5-7 April; 26-28 April; 17-19 May; 30 May–01 June.
More information

For the second year in a row, Benjamin will teach an intensive course in the 8th International Course on Medieval Music Performance (Besalú, Spain): Songs of the troubadours (for singers and instrumentalists).
More information

Amherst Early Music Festival (Connecticut College, New London CT) 21-28 July:
An intensive course on the solo cansos of the Occitan troubadours, with a focus on songs from the great Milan songbook Bibl. Ambr. R71 sup. (for singers and instrumentalists).
More information

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