Medieval music superstars SEQUENTIA visit Carleton; concert Friday, October 6

5 October 2023

Renowned medieval music ensemble SEQUENTIA is in residence at Carleton this week.  Five international women singers and director Benjamin Bagby are rehearsing, engaging with History classes, and conducting a vocal masterclass.  The residency culminates Friday, October 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Kracum Performance Hall with the concert Mystical Voices of Medieval Germany:  Hildegard von Bingen.  The concert is free and open to all.

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.

In this concert, Sequentia presents Hildegard of Bingen’s spiritual songs celebrating the saints, the angels, apostles, martyrs, prophets and patriarchs, but most essentially the Virgin Mary, all originally sung in her abbey church on the River Rhine, the Rupertsberg.

They also perform pieces not ascribed to Hildegard, but which come from her traditions of nearby 12th-century German convents, including a surprising later resonance from a 13th-century Bavarian cloister, where echoes of Hildegard’s musical language can still be heard giving voice to timeless texts of human desire from the Songs of Songs, with its powerful imagery so essential in the spiritual universe of contemplative monastic life.

As a special offering, Sequentia will present the climactic scene from Hildegard’s rarely-heard music-drama, Ordo Virtutum, in which the Devil tries to wrest an errant soul from the protection of the embodied virtues.