Ensemble for Medieval Music. Benjamin Bagby, Director

English | Français
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


Follow us on Facebook


Margriet Tindemans (1951-2014)

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)

Upcoming Concerts

13 and 14 March 2020
Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton NJ (USA)
Benjamin Bagby's Beowulf
– Postponed due to Coronavirus concerns

April 2020
Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, France
Workshop Roman de Fauvel – part III
– Postponed due to Coronavirus concerns

04 September 2021
Utrecht Early music festival, Utrecht (NL), Pieterskerk, 3 p.m.
Words of Power – Charms, Riddles and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands

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.
More information

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.
More information

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).
More information

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).
More information

More news