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Sequentia, Benjamin Bagby, Director

Berkeley Festival & Exhibition
Event organized by Berkeley Festival & Exhibition

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The Lost Songs Project: Boethius, Songs of Consolation (9th–11th centuries)

In the gallery of powerful female deities inhabiting the medieval Christian mind, few can rival the fickle force of Fortune, with her ever-turning wheel, or the gravitas of Philosophy, the wise and patient teacher, and consoling friend in times of need. In this new program Sequentia collaborates with University of Cambridge musicologist Sam Barrett to present the fruits of their common project: reconstructing the haunting Latin songs from the Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius (d. ca. 526), one of the single most important and influential texts of the Middle Ages. It was a book written in prison, on death row.

Hundreds of years after his execution, in monasteries and cathedral schools of the 9th-12th centuries, the many songs from this book were set to music and sung, but their melodies remained largely lost to us until the groundbreaking work of the musicologist Sam Barrett (Cambridge University). We have made use of medieval manuscripts copied for monks in Canterbury, most especially the famous collection called The Cambridge Songs (early 11th century), whose enigmatic notation has been transcribed especially for this project. These songs are heard again today for the first time in a thousand years

Benjamin Bagby, voice (Boethius), harps; Hanna Marti, voice (Philosophia), harp; Norbert Rodenkirchen, wooden and bone flute