Founded in 1997 by Polish singer and musicologist Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett in Basel, researches and performs sacred and secular music from the 9th to the 14th century in Europe. The ensemble’s main interest lies in the early polyphonies and monophonic repertories of the Notre Dame school and Aquitanian nova cantica; the aim always beingto look for a creative “counterpoint” to the mainstream in the less known peripheral sources. The ensemble’s programmes are characterised by a careful choice of themes and pieces, always paying close attention to their textual and musical interrelationships.
Peregrina’s interpretation and style is informed by the original source materials and treatises, as well as the latest musicological and historical research. The ensemble strives to approach a performance transmitted in the sources as closely as possible without having to renounce a well-balanced and beautiful vocal performance.
The ensemble’s continuing partnership with the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where its members met and studied, led to the CD recordings Mel et lac (Raumklang 2005) with Marian Aquitanian songs of the 12th century and Filia praeclara (Divox 2008) with medieval music from 13th and 14thcentury Polish convents of the Order of Saint Clare. Both CDs have received critical acclaim in the European and American press including among others: twice Goldberg 5 (ES), Selection Musicora (CH), CD of the month (Muzyka 21, PL), Supersonic Pizzicato (LUX). Filia praeclara has also won the prestigious ECHO Klassik Award 2009 for the best a cappella recording of the year. In the years 2011–2017, six new CDs have been released: Crux with Parisian Easter music from the 13th and 14thcenturies (Glossa 2011), Sacer Nidus with the oldest extant music from medieval Poland (Raumklang 2011), Veiled Desires – Lives and Loves of Nuns in the Middle Ages (Raumklang 2012, International Classical Music Awards 2013 nomination), Cantrix, presenting the musical past of the Maltese Order from the Royal Convents of Sigena and Las Huelgas (Raumklang 2013), Miracula with medieval music for St. Nicholas (Tacet 2014) and Codex 457 with medieval music from Tyrol (Musikmuseum 2017). On the first volume of a four-CD project Mare Balticum with the oldest extant music from Denmark (released by Tacet 2017), Peregrina was joined by the renowned performer Benjamin Bagby (Sequentia). The album has won the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) 2019 in the early music category. The following Mare Balticum vol. 2 (Medieval Finland and Sweden, Tacet 2019) and the Mare Balticum vol. 3 with recording of complete songs of Wizlav of Rügen have just received Supersonic Pizzicato and two further ICMA 2020 & 2021 nominations.
Peregrina has performed at numerous festivals in Switzerland (such as Lucerne Festival), Belgium (BOZAR), Poland, Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Great Britain, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Iceland, Italy, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the USA. Peregrina’s concerts have been regularly broadcast on Radio SRF 2 Kultur, Deutschlandfunk, Südwestfunk, SWR 2, BR, Klaasika Radio, Polish Radio Channel 2 und BBC Radio 3.
The name Peregrina, the wanderer, alludes to the transmission of music and ideas throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, but also reflects the personal journeys of the singers themselves. The ensemble members (coming from Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Estonia, France, and the USA) together achieve a dynamic balance through their different origins, and they unite to emulate the interaction and convergence of the cultures and histories of the music they perform.