Chant Wars: A Medieval Musical Lecture and Performance

Co-sponsored by the Harvard University Department of Music

The theme of "Chant Wars" is the famous ninth-century confrontation between the Carolingians and the various regional chant traditions they sought to replace. "Chant Wars" uses two separate male vocal ensembles, making it possible to explore the vocal and stylistic elements of this confrontation, and allowing contemporary listeners to hear the incredible diversity of chant styles of medieval Europe. The Carolingian reform of the liturgy and its musical structures arrived in the different regions of the Carolingian Empire almost as a "cultural revolution," finding in many places an already-existing local liturgy with which it had to contend. Each of these local musical traditions has been preserved in a different way: some of them have survived until our time (Ambrosian chant in Milan); some survived for several centuries before being completely eradicated (Beneventan chant in Southern Italy); and some were merged with layers of other traditions in building the repertory we commonly call "Gregorian chant."

In 2005, Bagby and Livljanic and their ensembles recorded "Chant Wars" for the Sony BMG label.

About Benjamin Bagby and Katarina Livljanic (as of 2003)

Benjamin Bagby and Katarina Livljanic direct two of Europe's most innovative ensembles for medieval music, Dialogos (Livljanic) and Sequentia (Bagby). Creation of and research for "Chant Wars" was the focus of their work at the CSWR as musicians-in-residence in 2003-04. During their residency, Bagby and Livljanic worked on a selected corpus of chant melodies for their concert program, completed the basic research and program development, and began to work on musical and vocal issues relating to chant performance practices.