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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Program Archive

Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper

I. An Ode to Cosmic Harmony

In the neo-Platonic cosmos of many medieval thinkers (and certainly our harper belonged to this group), the visible world could provide tangible expression of the underlying order and harmony of the universe, whose elements vibrate in agreeable concord with their neighbors, symbolizing the unseen forces which keep our world intact.

Quod mundus stabili fide

Rhineland, early 11c)

This is one of the songs (metra) from the famous "Consolation of Philosophy", written by the Roman aristocrat, philosopher and learned musician, Boethius, as he sat in prison in ca. 524, awaiting execution on trumped-up charges of treason. The ‘Consolation’, arguably one of the most widely-read and important Western books of all time, is in the form of a long dialogue between the despairing Boethius and a numinous female personification of ‘Philosophia’ who visits him on death row. Their exchanges are interspersed with songs in verse, many of which have been found set to music in monastic manuscripts dated centuries later. Our harper’s songbook contains incipits to all of Boethius’s metra, attesting to their continued popularity in Germany, more than four centuries after Boethius was executed. In this song (from Book II / vii), the poet is reminded that our chaotic world is actually well-ordered, and that the source of this order is love.

Text: In regular harmony the world moves through its transformations; seeds in competition with each other are held in balance by eternal law;

[Refrain]: O happy race of men: if the love that rules the stars may also rule your hearts!

Phoebus brings rosy dawns in his golden chariot, that his sister Phoebe might rule the nights brought by Hesperus, [Refr.];

the waves of the greedy sea are kept within fixed bounds, nor may the land move out and extend its limits, [Refr.];

That which binds all things to order, governing earth, sea and sky, is love, [Refr.];

If love’s rein slackened, all things now held by mutual love would immediately fall to warring with each other, striving to wreck that engine of the world which they now drive, in mutual trust, with motion beautiful, [Refr.].

And love joins peoples too, by a sacred bond, and ties the knot of holy matrimony that binds lovers, and joins also with its law all faithful friends, [Refr.].

(Translation: S.J. Tester)

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Upcoming Concerts

05 October 2017
Paris (FR), Musée de Cluny
Monks Singing Pagans

09 to 13 October 2017
Venice (IT), Fondazione Cini
Seminar Roman de Fauvel

20 April 2018
Konstanz, D
Oswald in Konstanz

See full concert schedule



Benjamin Bagby's recent activities as teacher/lecturer, linked to his performances

At the invitation of the music department, Benjamin taught a performance workshop on the music of Hildegard von Bingen for students at Princeton University (29 March), where he also performed 'Beowulf' in a collaborative production with digital light designer Craig Winslow. Following this, at the invitation of the medieval studies program and the English department, he gave a lecture on his work with reconstructing the 'Beowulf' performance, at Yale University (3 April).

At the Université Paris – Sorbonne, where Benjamin is on the faculty, the yearly 'Entretiens de la musique ancienne' were held this year in honor of his life-long work with reconstructing 'lost songs'. The main event was his performance of 'Beowulf' (11 May), with French video titles, in the Amphithéâtre Richelieu of the Sorbonne, followed by two days of symposium at the university's Centre Clignancourt, sponsored by the historical music organization IREMUS and the musicology department of the university. During this symposium, Benjamin gave a lecture on his work with reconstructed harps and the kinds of clues they can provide ('Beowulf ': dans l'atelier d'un conteur d'histoires).


2017 Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship awarded by Early Music America to string-player Allison Monroe

This scholarship is given by EMA to “an outstanding and highly-motivated (and possibly unconventional) young performer of medieval music who seeks to widen his/her experience through more advanced study and/or auditions in Europe.”  The recipient is chosen by a jury of musicians who knew or worked with the great medieval music specialist and teacher, Barbara Thornton (1950-1998), who co-founded Sequentia together with Benjamin Bagby in 1977. Read more about Allison here.

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