Vocalist, harper and scholar Benjamin Bagby has been an important figure in the field of medieval musical performance for more than 30 years. After musical studies in the USA (Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College) and Switzerland (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis), he and the late Barbara Thornton formed Sequentia in 1977 in Cologne, Germany, where the ensemble was based until Mr. Bagby moved to Paris in 2002.
The years since 1977 have been almost uniquely devoted to the work of Sequentia. Mr. Bagby created more than 70 innovative concert programs of medieval music and music drama, giving performances in Western and Eastern Europe, North & South America, North and West Africa, the Middle East, Japan, Korea, and Australia.
Apart from the research and ensemble work of Sequentia, Mr. Bagby devotes his time to the solo performance of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic oral poetry; an acclaimed performance of theBeowulf epic is an ongoing project, with performances given yearly worldwide, and a DVD production released in 2007.
Sequentia is one of the world’s most respected and innovative ensembles for medieval music. It is an international group of singers and instrumentalists – united in Paris under the direction of the legendary performer and teacher Benjamin Bagby– dedicated to the performance and recording of Western European music from the period before 1300. The size and disposition of the ensemble is determined by the repertoire being performed, and ranges between an instrumental/vocal duo to a large vocal ensemble. Based on meticulous and original research, intensive rehearsal and long gestation, Sequentia’s virtuosic performances are compelling, surprising in their immediacy, and strike the listener with a timeless emotional connection to our own past musical cultures.
Sam Barrett is Reader in Early Medieval Music at the University of Cambridge and Director of Studies in Music at Pembroke College. He is a specialist in early medieval music, with a particular interest in Latin song and issues in notation, transmission and performance. He also researches and teaches jazz and related genres of popular music.
His work within medieval music is driven by an interest in song, especially in the way it crosses boundaries between text and music, writing and orality, and memory and performance. These interests have focussed on arguably the earliest surviving layer of the Western European lyric tradition, namely the music of the late antique and early medieval Latin lyric, in relation to which he has identified new notated sources and developed analytical techniques for assessing a musical tradition previously presumed to lie beyond detailed commentary. This research has resulted in new editions of the earliest layer of a continuous European tradition of song. He also has an active research interest in American jazz of the 1950s and ’60s. His published articles on modal jazz are currently being extended in preparation for publication of a book under the working title Kind of Blue and the Modality of Modern Jazz (OUP, forthcoming).