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this way of hearing medieval music.

But that's not the way Sequentia wants you to hear it. True, their performances, backed up by lots of research, are appropriately sparse, either a cappella or accompanied by perhaps a single harp or small organ. But Sequentia puts medieval compositions together into programs that make them seem immediate, almost topical, ripped from the headlines of medieval times. One of their recent CDs is called Chant Wars. Chant wars? you might ask as the incense rises ceilingward while your chant CD spins. But the standardization of chant was part and parcel of what the Carolingian kings were trying to accomplish as they extended their power across western Europe.

Sequentia's programs are organized around in-depth explorations of specific repertories and locales. One deals with the chant wars, another with the relationship between the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the first flowering of polyphony (music with more than one line) in southwestern France a thousand years ago. When the group comes to St. Francis of Assisi church on January 27, they'll be performing a program called "Voices of the Island Sanctuary." The Island Sanctuary was the Ile de la Cité in Paris as its great cathedral, Notre Dame, was being built.

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University of Michigan Museum of Arts