Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

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Katja Zimmermann

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Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper Arts Inc.
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Oswald in Constance (ca. 1415-17)

Benjamin Bagby voice, medieval harp
Norbert Rodenkirchen medieval flutes

During the Council of Constance, the Tirolian poet and singer Oswald von Wolkenstein joined the party, amusing his friends and admirers with clever songs about living conditions in the overcrowded city, thronged as it was by churchmen, diplomats, princes and their courts, opportunists, hangers-on, thieves, prostitutes and street rabble. He sang about overpriced taverns, the bad quality of food and drink, and the hard-headed business sense of the local 'working' girls. But he also made songs about current political scandals and was not shy about naming names, especially his own. The neighboring city of Überlingen, where many council participants stayed, was also not spared criticism: shameless inn-owners, bad wine, high prices and dubious romantic encounters made his life miserable. With evident self-irony, Oswald gladly recounts his disastrous visit to a one particular tavern, but he also sings an allegorical and political song about the heretical Hussites (here disguised as geese). He also delights us with a sung debate between a rich burgher of Constance and a vain but impoverished courtier, with an ancient crone appointed as judge. The theme being debated: who has more luck with the girls, a boring man with a heavy sack of coins, or a good-looking, blond fop who can dance but cannot pay? The program also includes two of Oswald's most famous autobiographical songs (Es fügt sich, and Durch Barbarei, Arabia) and a series of instrumental pieces based on Oswald's unforgettable melodies.

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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