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


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Frankish Phantoms
Echoes from the Carolingian Palaces (8th-10th centuries)

Benjamin Bagby voice, harp
Wolodymyr Smishkewych voice
Norbert Rodenkirchen flutes, cithara, harp

In his new Sequentia programme, Benjamin Bagby explores the musical world of the Carolingian clan – and especially Charlemagne, who became emperor in 800 –, those warlike and pious Frankish kings whose realm, in the 8th century, stretched across what is now most of Western Europe. Much is known about Christian liturgical chant under the Franks, but Bagby, using all of the available manuscript sources and reconstructing lost melodies with the collaboration of musicologist Sam Barrett (Cambridge University) and others, will bring back to life all manner of lost musical works from a golden age of European song, when scholars and poets from England, Spain, Francia and Germanic lands flourished under these enigmatic and powerful rulers.

This programme has a strong link to the common heritage of France, Belgium and Germany and stretches its focus from the regions of the Seine, Meuse and Rhine rivers to the newly-constructed royal palace at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen).

Songs and canticles will be performed in the three major languages spoken at court (Latin, Germanic, and Romance), including reconstructions of such famous texts as ‘La Cantilène de sainte Eulalie’ (the oldest extant text in the French language); the Old High German battle-song, the ‘Hildebrandslied’; the Latin lament for the death of Charlemagne (d. 814); and songs by international court poets working for the Frankish king, such as the Englishman Alcuin. These, often with instrumental accompaniment, and instrumental music (harps, cithara and flutes), will be woven into a tapestry of ancient echoes, allowing these magnificent songs from Charlemagne’s empire to be heard again in our time.

Bagby’s colleagues Rodenkirchen and Smishkewych are veterans and long-time collaborators with Sequentia. Instrumentalist Norbert Rodenkirchen has been an integral part of the ‘Lost Songs Project’ for almost 15 years, and has made important contributions to the programmes and CDs ‘Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper’, the ‘Rheingold Curse’ and, most recently, ‘Fragments for the End of Time’. Vocalist Wolodymyr Smishkewych has appeared since 2000 with the Sequentia ensemble of men’s voices, most especially in the programmes ‘Pilgrims to the Apocalypse’, ‘Chant Wars’ and ‘Voices from the Island Sanctuary’.

Especially for this programme, Norbert Rodenkirchen commissioned the reconstruction of a 10th century cithara (citole) made by French luthier Olivier Feraud.

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.
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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.
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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).
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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).
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