Benjamin Bagby: 21 January 2014

nrf-hildegardGreen College Society Series: Interdisciplinarity in Action

Guest speaker: BENJAMIN BAGBY (Ensemble Sequentia, Paris)

“Hildegard von Bingen and the German Mystical Tradition in Medieval Music”

Coach House, Green College, 6201 Cecil Green Park Road, UBC
Tuesday, January 21, 5-6:30 pm, reception to follow, all welcome

Benjamin Bagby, leading medieval scholar and internationally recognized performer, discusses the creation of Ensemble Sequentia‘s newest program featuring masterpieces of the Benedictine visionary and composer Hildegard von Bingen (12th century) in the wider context of the German mystical tradition.

Hildegard von Bingen was many things – a mediæval Benedictine abbess and mystic from the Rhineland, recently made a saint and doctor ecclesiæ; a renowned healer and natural scientist; a passionate witness to the power of divinity as manifested in countless visions of extraordinary vividness; a modern ‘new-age’ and feminist icon who inspired countless books, performances, and even a recent German film; a woman of noble birth and immense courage, who was not intimidated by the male hierarchy of the 12th century church, who fought for the rights of her convent, and corresponded freely with prelates, kings, queens and emperors. But most surprisingly, this unique mediæval personality is known as a brilliant Latin poet and musician, the creator of over 75 virtuosic spiritual songs of astonishing originality and beauty as well as the earliest surviving music-drama written by a known composer.

Vocalist, harper and mediævalist Benjamin Bagby has been an important figure in the field of mediæval musical performance for over 30 years. Born near Chicago, he studied at Oberlin Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where Sequentia was founded in 1977. Since then he has been devoted to the research, performance and recording work of Sequentia. Benjamin is also deeply involved with the solo performance of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic oral poetry; his acclaimed performance of the Beowulf epic continues to be heard worldwide and was released as a DVD in 2007. In 2010 he received the Howard Mayer Brown Lifetime Achievement Award from Early Music America. In addition to researching and creating over 70 programmes for Sequentia, Benjamin has published widely, writing about mediæval performance practice; as a guest lecturer and professor, he has taught courses and workshops all over Europe and North America. Since 2005 he is an associate professor at the Sorbonne, University of Paris, where he teaches mediæval music performance practice.

See also:

sequentia hildegard celestial hierarchy

The final CD of Sequentia’s Hildegard von Bingen complete works project was recorded for SONY in November 2012, and released in 2013 as a single CD, to be followed by the complete works box set at a later date. The completion of this enormous project, begun by Sequentia in 1982, represents the culmination of the life’s work of the late Barbara Thornton and also celebrates Hildegard’s elevation to sainthood and magistra ecclesiae in 2012. A multi-generational ensemble of women’s voices plus the flautist Norbert Rodenkirchen was united under the direction of Benjamin Bagby for this unique recording.

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