Soundings: New Music at the Nasher

Beowulf

March 1, 2018
7:30 p.m.

Experience the epic tale of Beowulf, performed by vocalist and Anglo-Saxon harp performer Benjamin Bagby. 

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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