Early Beowulf reconstruction tape
Listen to one of the earliest recordings of Benjamin Bagby’s Beowulf reconstruction, made in ca. 1987 (almost 30 years ago). It was originally released as a cassette tape together with a publication on voices and instruments in the Middle Ages. The book is long out of print, and John Tucker has kindly digitized the recording and put it on his website.
Copenhagen early music festival
Following his performance of Beowulf in Copenhagen’s early music festival ‘Renaissance/SOLO’ in October, Benjamin Bagby talked with the audience about his work, and was saved at some point with a glass of good Danish beer. Photo: Denis Khomenko
Benjamin Bagby solo performance: The Voyager: Medieval Songs of Exile, Wandering and Travel
In January 2015 Benjamin Bagby premiered a new solo program at the Musée de Cluny in Paris: the theme was travel and the songs of travellers in the Middle Ages. The live concert was filmed by Laurent Hadrien and a short film has been produced, with excerpts from the performance and added commentary by Bagby.
Beowulf in Russia
On 8 September 2015, Benjamin Bagby performed Beowulf for the first time in the Russian Federation, in the Tchaikowsky Conservatory in Moscow. Bagby also coached an ensemble of Moscow early music performers preparing for their Russian premiere of the 'Roman de Fauvel' on 12 September at the festival La Renaissance. For this significant event, Bagby also worked with Russian instrumentalists Ivan Velikanov, Danil Ryabchikov and French vocalist Marc Mauillon.
Pyotr Pospelov, one of the most prominent critics on the Russian classical music scene, wrote a review for the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti entitled Medieval Beowulf at La Renaissance Festival:
It turns out that orcs were not invented by Tolkien
‘...Bagby has been performing the poem for many years, and this 80-minute piece, occupying the whole concert, is burnished up to brilliance: the singer works with the sounds of the Old English language, obscure to modern English speakers, and with the sound of his flexible, expressive and resoundingbaritone... the artist reaches an impressive intonation and rhythmical diversity... reciting, chanting, singing long melismas, switching to a complex pattern of text, savouring each syllable...
...Modern teenage culture with its trolls and orcs presented itself in Bagby’s performance in its original purity. Nowadays an ethno-performer, living in our pop-music age, could, probably, be glad to know that an ancient bard at a feast in a castle used similar rhythms and techniques…'
(Translation by Danil Ryabchikov)
Beowulf at the Utrecht Early Music Festival
On 29-30 August, Benjamin Bagby celebrated the 25th anniversary of his first performance of Beowulf at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, performing again to sold-out houses in Utrecht's RASA Theatre. See the festival's promotional video in which Bagby appears to discuss his work:
Bagby's Beowulf performed in Carnegie Hall, New York City
On 22 April 2014, Benjamin Bagby performed a version of Beowulf as part of a series of concerts curated by American composer David Lang.
Mr. Bagby comes as close to holding hundreds of people in a spell as ever a man has... That is much too rare an experience in theater. — The New York Times
11-13 March 2016 Beowulf USA tour in late March, early April 2017, including Yale University, Lafayette College and others to be announced.
30 March 2017 Princeton University
Some Recent Performances
11-13 March 2016 - Toronto, Canada
17 November 2015 7:30pm - Akron, Ohio
14 November 2015 8:00pm - Reinberger Chamber Hall at Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio
13 November 2015 8:00pm - St Paul's Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
20 October 2015 Copenhagen, Denmark KoncertKirken, Copenhagen Early Music Festival
8 September 2015 Moscow, Russia, Tchaikowsky Conservatory
29/30 August 2015 Utrecht Early Music Festival
19 June 2015 Zadar Concert Season, Croatia
1 May 2015 University of Chicago
7 May 2015 Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC (USA)
A Smithsonian Symposium
Organized by the Smithsonian’s Kenneth Slowik, a symposium at the Smithsonian Institution explored several topics germane to the teaching of historically informed performance practiceto collegiate and graduate students in the United States. As an inspirational prelude to the symposium itself, on Thursday evening 7 May at 7:30, Benjamin Bagby, co-founder of the medieval ensemble Sequentia, presented his hour and one quarter long solo recitation of the first part of the great medieval Anglo-Saxon saga Beowulf.
Symposium on Orality and Literacy
On 8 and 9 February 2013 Benjamin Bagby participated in a symposium: "Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit im Wandel der Wissenschaftsdiskurse" at the University of Rostock / Hochschule für Musik in Rostock, Germany. He spoke about the his reconstruction of 'Beowulf' and gave examples of alternative versions of the same sections.
'Beowulf' at Kalamazoo: Essays on Translation and Performance
A major scholarly book has just been published which documents a gathering of prominent Anglo-Saxonists and scholars of oral poetry at the University of Western Michigan (Michigan/USA). Benjamin Bagby was a participant in that meeting, where he also performed his version of 'Beowulf'. The book includes essays on translating 'Beowulf', essays on performance (featuring a lengthy roundtable discussion with Bagby and various scholars), and reviews of Seamus Heaney's best-selling English translation of 'Beowulf.' There is also a CD with readings from 'Beowulf' by Bagby (in the original) and a variety of other readers in various languages.
'Beowulf' at Kalamazoo: Essays on Translation and Performance. Edited by Jana K. Schulman and Paul E. Szarmach. Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo (2012). 432 pages, plus audio CD. ISBN 978-1-58044-152-0
Performer Profile: Benjamin Bagby
Benjamin Bagby was recently in London, where he appeared as a guest on the BBC3 'Early Music Show' to talk about Sequentia.
›› The podcast version of his interview with host Catherine Bott
Washington D.C. (USA)
video titles in English
FRAGMENTS FOR THE END OF TIME
Sequentia (Benjamin Bagby and Norbert Rodenkirchen)
25 and 26 February, Houston TX (Rothko Chapel)
3 March, Wellesley MA (Houghton Chapel)
6 March, New York City NY (Morgan Library)
November 19, 2011: INVOCATION - International Vocal Night, Köln (Germany)
November 30, 2011: Basel (Schweiz): Museum Tinguely
October 8, 2011: Konstanz (D), Archäologisches Museum Baden-Württemberg – 'Hildebrandslied, Heliand und Beowulf'
September 2, 2011: Wratislava Cantans Festival / Poland
September 29, 2011: Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA / USA
October 4, 2011: Wake Forest University, Winston- Salem, North Carolina / USA
August 27, 2011: Fränkischer Sommer / Germany
November 20, 2010: London, British Library
October 22, 2010: California University of Pennsylvannia, California, PA
October 26, 27, 29 and 30, 2010: Cal Performances, Zellerbach Theater, Berkeley, CA
November 5, 2010: Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
July 16, 2010: Madison Early Music Festival, Mills Concert Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
July 21, 2010: Tanglewood Music Festival, Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA
25-28 October, 2009: London, UK, British Library: Beowulf 1000: A Celebration of a Heroic Poem
A four-day celebration of the magnificent Anglo-Saxon epic in performance, readings, discussion, family events and workshops, tohether with a new display of the unique surviving manuscript.
- 25/10/09: performance (London, British Library)
- 26/10/09: performance (London, BL)
- 27/10/09: round table discussion with poet Seamus Heaney (London, BL)
- 28/10/09: performance (London, BL)
September 6, 2009: Vokalmusik entlang der Romanischen Straße, Germany
(For details, consult www.kultursommer.de)
June 18, 2009: Ancona, Italy
Presenter: Cantar Lontano Festival, organized by E lucevan le stelle
Venue: Abbazia di Sant'Elena
www.cantarlontano.com, www.elucevanlestelle.com, www.youtube.com/cantarlontano
July 21, 2009: Vendôme, France, 21h00
Presenter: Le CliO (Conservatoire contemporain de Littérature Orale)
Quartier Rochambeau, 41100 Vendôme, France, Tél. 02 54 72 26 76
November 10, 2008, 8:00 – Hanover, NH
November 1, 2008, 8:00 – Vancouver, BC
UBC Recital Hall
March 8, 2009, 1:00 – New York, NY
February 28, 2009, 8:00 – Kansas City, MO
Grace and Holy Trinity Church