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Charms, Riddles, and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands

Charms, Riddles, and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands

Date: Friday, March 1, 8 p.m.
Location: Lang Music Building, Lang Concert Hall

In this world-premiere performance, Benjamin Bagby and Sequentia will chant and sing a number of poetic songs from the medieval northlands (eighth - 11th centuries) in Old English, Old High German, and Old Icelandic. Using medieval instruments including Germanic harps and wooden and bone flutes, the sounds will include charms, riddles, elegies, songs of magic and healing, laments over the loss of loved ones, and the pain of exile in a foreign land.

Each of the central modes deals with deeply important relations among people, their bodies, and the land. The riddles are often narrated from the point of view of some natural creature (swan, moon, iceberg) and may be early environmental poems. The charms use magical words to affect health and healing (on arthritis, a late pregnancy, a land to be planted and plowed). The elegies are laments over the loss of a spouse, a child, a homeland, a dying culture.

These songs restore to life old languages and cultures and reaffirm the connection between past and present. Sequentia will be in residence for 10 days of rehearsals, class visits in English and music, and master classes.