(exclusive of Europe)
In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:
Aaron Concert Artists
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New York City 10039, NY / USA
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Margriet Tindemans (1951-2014)
Sequentia joins the early music world in mourning the passing of a great musician, teacher, instrumentalist and mensch, Margriet Tindemans, who left us in the last days of 2014. Her long and brilliant career can hardly be summarized here, but I thought I might recall a bit the ‘old days’ during Margriet's years with Sequentia, when she lived in Maastricht, then in Belgium just across the border from Aachen, and finally in Cologne.
Sequentia was founded in Basel in 1977, as Barbara Thornton and I were finishing our diplomas in medieval music performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. In fact, it was our joint diploma recital in February 1977 which marked the beginning of Sequentia, followed in March by the first concert given under the Sequentia banner, in Brussels. In those final student days, the medieval fiddle players of the group were Alice Robbins, Sigrid Lee and Dana Maiben — an astonishing array of talent. When the decision was made to establish the ensemble in Cologne after graduation, only Barbara and I were interested in making Germany a new home, so we were looking for new colleagues in the area. In the meantime, we had met up with a great young lutenist from Cologne named Paul Shigihara Haltod, who was a student of Michael Schäffer. We had already heard from one of our teachers, Thomas Binkley, about a ferociously talented young fiddle player from the Netherlands, Margriet Tindemans, and we resolved to go hear her play with Syrinx, a Dutch ensemble of five women very active at the time. We met her after one of their concerts in Germany and proposed that we get together to ‘try some things’. Our first meeting with her in Cologne was so much fun, a real revelation, and we hit it off right away! But she was already a player much in demand in those days, while also finishing her viola da gamba solo diploma with Wieland Kuijken in Brussels. We had some concert commitments in late 1977, but since Margriet was not yet available, for those first concerts in Geneva and Göttingen we were joined by Rosamund Morley (studying then in den Haag) on fiddle. In early 1978 we finally had a chance to work with Margriet, usually going to her place in Maastricht for rehearsals — our first performances with her and Paul were in Belgium and Germany, with a program called ‘Tradition and Avant-Garde in the 13th Century’. During the course of that year Paul decided to abandon early music and lute in favor of jazz guitar (he’s still the lead guitarist with the West German Radio Big Band), and then, as if by magic, Crawford Young literally walked through the door. We all met up on the shores of Lago Maggiore in Switzerland that summer for intensive rehearsals and a first performance, and began performing in a quartet formation which would remain stable for the next three years (see photo, ca. 1980). Margriet shared a small house with Crawford in the Belgian countryside near Aachen, where we used to rehearse. At some point she needed to take time off to prepare her gamba diploma recital in Brussels, and during that period Mary Springfels replaced her for a residency in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. We performed all over Europe, especially in Italy, Germany and France, did a lot of radio work, and beginning in 1980 we began to tour extensively under the auspices of the Goethe Institute, with concerts in India, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Sudan. On these long tours, Margriet was always in her element: curious, open, fun-loving, hard-working and dependable. We all worked hard and partied hard (ah, to be young again). It was at this time that we made our first recording, ‘Minstrels and Clerics’, and later the ‘Trouvères’ set of three LPs (joined by Wendy Gillespie), for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.
When Crawford left the ensemble in 1981 we were able to convince David Hart to come to Germany and join us, and there followed a period of intense activity and many important projects: the first Hildegard von Bingen recordings, the first staging and TV film of ‘Ordo Virtutum’ (joined by Sarah Cunningham), the recording of German ‘Spruchdichter’, and more tours with Goethe Institute, including a memorable one-month tour of Brazil, and a first big tour of the USA. Margriet and David became very close (and bonded over their many shared cigarette pauses) and their playing together was sublime. But David was not happy in Germany and returned to NYC in the fall of 1982 — it was a sad farewell. The memory of that period is even more bittersweet as I realize that I am now the only surviving member of that quartet. This was when Sequentia became a trio, a formation with Margriet which was to last for several more years. We made new programs which really featured Margriet’s unique gifts (especially the German program called ‘Der Wanderer’), and we found that this tighter formation was also more suitable for long tours (six weeks in South America, the first of many Vancouver Early Music Festival courses in 1984 (where we realized that she was an amazing teacher as well as performer), many tours of the US and Canada, and finally, a first tour of Japan. Margriet was as solid as a rock and as brilliant as fireworks on all these long tours -- it was a real pleasure and inspiration to share the stage with her. Margriet was an integral part of several staged productions of Hildegard’s ‘Ordo Virtutum’, in North America and Europe, and recordings such as ‘English Songs of the Middle Ages’, ‘Philippe le Chancelier’, the new staging of a Marian laments, the Cividale ‘Planctus Marie’ (a project for which Shira Kammen joined forces with Margriet), and songs from the late medieval Rheinland women’s tradition, accompanying Barbara's women’s vocal ensemble ‘Vox Femine’, numerous radio and TV appearances in Germany (it seemed like we were in West Berlin every other week). Looking back, we all now see that the 1980’s and early 1990’s were a ‘golden age’ for musical performance.
On one of our US tours, she was hosted in Seattle by a charming fellow named Dick Templeton, and the rest is history. Margriet’s move to Seattle was gradual, but by mid-1987 we could no longer sustain the long-distance collaboration — an era had come to an end. Those were nine huge years in the history of our ensemble, and Margriet’s contribution was an essential part of everything we did, her strong musical and personal presence a constant and supportive force, her generosity and charisma an inspiration. She had the highest standards for herself and inspired us all to do the same. All of us who knew her from those times remember her dynamism, her effortless musicality and instrumental mastery, and we are grateful to have traveled that part of our lives together with her. She will be missed and remembered lovingly by all of us who survive her.
Ben Bagby (Paris, January 2015)
17 March 2017
Basel (CH) Predigerkirche, Freunde Alte Musik
Monks Singing Pagans
25 March – 2 April 2017
Lafayette College, Vassar College, Princeton University, Yale University
Benjamin Bagby Beowulf tour USA
1 April 2017
New York City, Symphony Space
Book release event for ‘The Inquisitor’s Tale’
11 May 2017
Paris, Université de Paris – Sorbonne, Amphithéâtre Richelieu
Benjamin Bagby has recorded the only surviving Old High German epic fragment, the Hildebrandslied (The Song of Hildebrand), for inclusion in an audiobook version of Adam Gidwitz’s new book for children and young adults, The Inquisitor’s Tale, just released by Penguin/Random House. He also recorded harp accompaniments to go with portions of the reading of the story. A release event is being schedule for New York City in early April, 2017.
New program given birth at Cambridge University
Following working sessions in 2014-15 with University of Cambridge musicologist Sam Barrett in the USA (Harvard University and Ohio State University) and in Cambridge (Pembroke College), Sequentia was in residence at Cambridge in April for the final rehearsals of the new program 'Monks Singing Pagans'. An informal video of a rehearsal made by the university became a YouTube sensation, with over 500,000 views. In addition to their rehearsals and working sessions on the songs of Boethius, Sequentia gave a masterclass and the premiere performance of 'Monks Singing Pagans', immediately followed by the US premiere during a residency at Dartmouth College (USA). The week spent at Dartmouth included teaching activities in music history, performance practice, Latin poetry and manuscript studies. Sequentia returned to Cambridge in late June to prepare a special program of the Boethian songs, which was given as part of a symposium on medieval Latin song, with a special concert on 2 July in Pembroke College Chapel.
Teaching in Basel and Milano
Benjamin Bagby will be teaching performance courses on medieval song at two music academies this year:
Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Basel, Switzerland): 31 October to 1 November 2016 and 13-14 March 2017
Scuola Civica di Musica Claudio Abbado (Milano, Italy): 2-3 December 2016 and 16-18 February 2017