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In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:
Aaron Concert Artists
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Fragments for the End of Time
Scalam ad caelos
Instrumental piece based on a 9th century Frankish sequence melody
Source: Notker’s Scalam ad caelos (Transcription: R. Crocker) / Reconstruction: Bagby & Rodenkirchen
Here, we reconstruct what could have been an instrumental tradition of Frankish minstrels, using a melody which survived when it was adapted for a sequence by the poet-monk Notker of St. Gall. Although we will never learn the story behind the original melody, we do know of the the power that such tunes had over the centuries, both within the church and ouside it.
Summi regis archangele Michahel
Sequenz ‚quam Alcuinus composuit Karolo Imperatori’ [Sequence‚ which Alcuin composed for the emperor Charlemagne], (Einsiedeln, 10th c., but possibly created earlier: late 8th century)
Source: Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek Codex 121 (10th c.) / Transcription: N. Rodenkirchen
This is one of the most widely-known sequences of the Middle Ages. In the dedication to Charlemagne, attributed to the monk Alcuin, we learn that the emperor is compared to the archangel Michael, who defeated the dragon for the redemption of mankind. We might see the medieval fascination with Christian dragon-killers (also with snakes and dragon-like beasts, especially in connection with the End of Time) as a lingering, subconscious element of pagan culture and mythology. In the case of Summi regis we may have before us an original sequence by Alcuin (who was active among the literati at the court of Charlemagne from 782-789), making it also the earliest-known sequence by a known author to have survived.
Archangel of the Highest King, Michael, listen to our voices, we beseech.
We indeed proclaim you are the prince of the citizens on high. For our sake implore God that he send his help to the wretched.
A princely power has been given to you by the Lord, to save sinning souls. You also have, in perpetuity, pride of place in paradise:all the citizens on high honour you.
In the temple of God you were seen to holda golden censer in your hands. From this the smoke, arising with great fragrance, made its way up to the gaze of God.
When you finished your battle against the great dragon, out of his jaws you plucked many souls. Then a vast silence was brought about in heaven; thousands upon thousands said ‘Glory to the King our Lord!’
Hear us, Michael, highest of angels: come down a little from heaven’s throne, bringing us the strength of the Lord and the relief of his tenderness. Gabriel, lay low our enemies, Raphael, bring a remedy to the sick, purge our diseases, lighten our injuries, and let us take part in the joys of the blessed!
Emperor, your sage plays you these melodies.
Translation: Peter Dronke
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