Soundings: New Music at the Nasher

Beowulf

March 1, 2018
7:30 p.m.

2017-2018 Soundings: New Music at the Nasher season tickets are now on sale. Individual tickets will be made available one month prior to each performance.

Benjamin Bagby brings us the chilling, magical power wielded by the untitled Anglo-Saxon epic poem known as Beowulf. The story has its roots in the art of the scop (“creator”), the bardic story-teller of early medieval England who would re-tell the story of Beowulf in song and speech, accompanying himself on a six-string harp for an audience captivated by the finest details of sound and meaning.

 

Bagby’s impetus to re-vocalise this medieval text as living art has come from many directions: from the power of those bardic traditions, mostly non-European, which still survive intact; from the work of instrument-makers who have made thoughtful renderings of seventh-century Germanic harps; and from those scholars who have shown an active interest in the problems of turning written words back into an oral poetry meant to be absorbed through the ear/spirit, rather than eye/brain. But the principal impetus comes from the language of the poem itself, which has a chilling, magical power that no modern translation can approximate.

 

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