Programme Archive

The Carolingian ‘globalization’ of medieval plainchant
Men’s voices

Voices of Dialogos (dir. Katarina Livljanic) and Sequentia (dir. Benjamin Bagby) are joined in this vision of medieval chant around the legendary 9th-century confrontation between the cantors of the Carolingian emperors and other regional European chant traditions they sought to replace with their own musical repertoires and vocal styles


The theme of Chant Wars is nothing less than the first known 'globalization' of European music. Specifically, the men of Dialogos/Sequentia perform music which illuminates the legendary 9th-century confrontation between the Frankish cantors of the Carolingian emperors and the European chant traditions the emperor sought to replace with these 'new' musical repertoires and vocal styles. The merging of two separate men's vocal ensembles makes it possible for today's listeners to hear the astonishing diversity of chant styles of medieval Europe, at a time when chant traditions were competing for ascendancy in the vigorous young empire of Pepin, Charlemagne and their successors.

This imperial reform of the liturgy and its musical structures arrived in some regions of the vast Carolingian empire almost as a 'cultural revolution', finding in many places an established local liturgy and singing style with which it had to contend. Some local styles survived this confrontation but most were merged with, or gradually replaced by, the Carolingian chants, resulting in the formation of the complex, hybrid repertory which we today call 'Gregorian chant'. In this concert programme, the men of Sequentia and Dialogos will present carefully-researched yet radical new reconstructions of the chants sung during this confrontation, taken from the world of brilliant medieval cantors who were literally singing for their lives. A recording of the programme was released in May 2005 by Sony-BMG.

Voices: Benjamin Bagby, Olivier Delafosse, Olivier Germond, Katarina Livljanić, Vincent Pislar, Branislav Rakić, Jean-Paul Rigaud, Wolodymyr Smishkewych, Michael Loughlin Smith