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

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


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Fragments for the End of Time


Instrumental piece based on a Frankish sequence melody (10th c.)
Source: St. Gall / Reconstruction: N. Rodenkirchen.

No instrumental music survives in written form from the period before 1200, and yet we know that instrumental music was performed with great sophistication. We can use various resources to make reconstructions of lost traditions: in the earliest sequelae sources, we find pieces with exotic titles, attesting to their popularity, or to an association with a certain story, an instrument, or a mythological character. When religious sequence texts were added later (and the melodies were finally written down), the titles fell into disuse. The exact nature of these titles will always remain a mystery which stimulates the imagination of musicians today. The tune Occidentana is found in several sources, sometimes under the name Cithara (= harp). To honor this ancient piece, Norbert Rodenkirchen performs it here on a tiny flute made from a delicate swan’s bone. The remains of just such an instrument, dating from the 11th century, were found in a castle near the ancient city of Speyer, Germany.

Iudicii signum

‚The Prophecy of the Erythraean Sybil’ (Aquitaine, 11th century)
Source: Paris, BN lat. 1154 / Transcription: Sam Barrett

This is the prophecy of the Erythraen Sybil, a pagan female oracle said to have lived at the time of Troy, whose words are transmitted by St. Augustine (The City of God, XVIII, 23) in an acrostic poem. This medieval version, which includes a refrain, was sung in Aquitanian cloisters during the liturgy for the massacre of the Holy Innocents (28 December), a feast closely associated with apocalyptic themes.


[Refrain]: Judgement shall come, and the sweat of the earth will be its signal.

Even the monarch eternal shall come from the heavens, suddenly come, in His flesh, to the dreaded tribunal. Faithful and faithless alike shall be seeing their maker uplifted with heavenly friends at the end of the ages. Souls with their bodies conjoined shall he summon to judgement. Riches will be rejected and long-cherished idols. Enormous the blaze that shall burn the broad seas and the heavens; its terrible blasts shall break open the portals of Hades. Saints in their flesh shall shine free in the light of this wildfire, the same that shall roast without ending the flesh of the wicked. Each man shall openly speak of his most secret wrongdoing, and God shall open their hearts. Gnashing of teeth shall resound and most horrible weeping. Even the sun shall not shine and the stars will be silent; the moonlight finished; the sky wrapped in darkness. The valleys will be leveled, the hilltops cast down, and all human affairs ended. The mountains will sink down into the fields and the seas. Over and done with the earth and the whole of its holdings. Springs, sources and rivers will all be boiling with fire. The horn shall sound from the highest heaven over the criminal damned as they wander sadly. The kings of the world will be judged before God. The quake-shaken earth will open to reveal the pit of hell, while rivers of hot sulphur and fire fall from the heavens.

Translation: B. Bagby (based on E.M. Sanford & W.M. Green)

Upcoming Concerts

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

See full concert schedule




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


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