St. Tikhon Choir Gives a “Stunning Debut”

Cinemusical gives stars across the board to the Saint Tikhon Choir’s recording of Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on Cappella Records:

“The work is a blend of liturgical components (litanies, various antiphons and hymns, an “Our Father”, communion, blessing) and psalm settings (Sheehan adapted Psalms 145 and 148).  There are references to ancient Znamenny and Valaam chants as well.  As the liturgy opens in its typical call and response with its single chant-like line.  The choir then responds in its rich harmonic style.  Listeners familiar with the work of composers like Morten Lauridsen will discern a kindred choral style in this music that connects spiritual power and beauty.  Reducing this to simple spiritual minimalist writing though will not do the work justice.  There are moments that hint at pentatonic lines which adds an ethereal quality to the texts.  It actually will become an additional unifying feature of the entire liturgy. … To say that this is a gorgeous performance feels a bit sacrilegious, and yet that is indeed one way to describe the stunning music and choral work.  There is a sense too that the music can be easily adapted for most local choirs—may they be inspired to aspire to the heights reached here.  Certainly there are any variety of segments that would work fine as standalone choral pieces.  The release of Sheehan’s liturgical setting could perhaps not come at a better time as we all are separated, unable to gather in our places of worship, or have this weekly communal opportunity to connect to the divine. … There is music here to touch the soul and might very well make some weep with the memories of their own worshipping communities.  There is that additional interior promise of hope and joy, mixed with appropriate reverence, that can also help listeners connect to the divine. … Regardless of one’s faith expression, this music on its own has the power to heal your soul and transform you from the present moment.”

Cinemusical

The

See the full review from Cinemusical

Sheehan’s Liturgy offers a much needed refuge

HRAudio.net’s Adrian Quanjer reviews Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

“‘In times of difficulty and insecurity, like now with a highly contagious virus spreading over the world, people will search for something tangible to hold on to. Something that gives warmth and hope, doesn’t change and has already for a long time been an unshakable part of humanity’. This is what crossed my mind when I received this latest release of Cappella Records. The composition may be new, the worship isn’t. The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is as old as Byzantine Christianity and has comforted millions of souls since. When listening to it I became wondrously aware that the magic of what Benedict Sheehan conveys so impressively with this world premiere recording, may offer to many, whether or not being an active believer, that so much needed refuge. … Sound & sight-wise, there is an abundant choice: A conventional CD plus a Blu-Ray Pure Audio 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround DTS MA 24/192, with 2 additional video tracks taken during the recording sessions May 2020 at the St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania with Mark Donahue doing the mixing and the mastering. And if this wasn’t enough, a two hours video of the complete Divine Liturgy celebration held in October 2019 at the St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington D.C. is included, with all its pomp and circumstance. A document to cherish.”

—Adrian Quanjer, HRAudio.net

See the full review on HRAudio.net

Four Stars from ConcertoNet for Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom

ConcertoNet‘s Linda Holt gives Four Stars to the Saint Tikhon Choir’s recording of Benedict Sheehan: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on Cappella Records:

“a recording which succeeds fully as a musical work, albeit one that follows strict compositional and theological guidelines. Despite the heaviness of its intention, I found this work surprisingly elegant and light, perhaps leavened by the delightful high voices of the choir, always smooth, never shrill, and by countertenor Timothy Parsons.

Of course, where would an Orthodox performance be without the haunting resonance of bass voices? They were in evidence throughout, providing a musical substratum in several sections over which Sheehan layered, like sheer ribbons, sometimes achingly beautiful striations from the higher voices.

An hour and a quarter in length, the Liturgy deserves to be listened to in a quiet room with no distractions. Listeners would do well not to attempt to listen while driving, on the phone, or grabbing a late lunch.

It is a work which commands not only attention, but respect, even if one has nothing in common with the religious teachings it imparts through song.…

… this album is an addition of rare grace and refinement to the living music heritage of the Eastern rites. It will delight the Orthodox and the discerning non-Orthodox music-lover equally, and, perhaps, in its own way, contribute to greater understanding in a fragmented and disjointed world.”

—Linda Holt, ConcertoNet

See the full review on ConcertoNet

Benedict Sheehan Brings the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom to Life

“While listening, I closed my eyes and just let the voices of the Saint Tikhon Choir bring the liturgy alive in music. … In all honesty, the voices of the choir performing Sheehan’s setting gave me chills. This is an album I’ll be listening to often. I highly recommend this album to those who enjoy liturgical music especially music that is rich in history and tradition. Let the voices of the Saint Tikhon’s Choir bring the liturgy to you especially during these difficult times.”

—Joe Sales

See the full review on JoeSales.Home.Blog

Blu-Ray Review of Benedict Sheehan: Liturgy

Blu-Ray.com reviews Cappella Records’ new release of the Saint Tikhon Choir and Benedict Sheehan‘s recording, Benedict Sheehan: Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom:

“Sheehan’s approach certainly harkens back to longstanding choral traditions in Russia and environs, and as such, there’s often a dark, almost foreboding, ambience to some of the massed lower sonorities he exploits. …

If the underlying foundational element here is the shrouded somber aspect of the Russian soul, as Sheehan also gets into in his essay, he works in a number of other traditions, including minimalism and an American folksong feeling. The result is surprisingly homogeneous, with some really gorgeously burnished choral moments. …

The music on the Blu-ray disc is varied and moving, and Sheehan (who also conducts) elicits a really commendable blend, especially in some of his close harmonies. The added bonus of being able to see the accompanying ritual on the video is a nice extra…

Audio on the Blu-ray disc is top notch, and while this may in fact appeal mostly to those with an interest in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, it should still be enjoyed generally by lovers of well wrought choral music, regardless of whether or not they have this, or indeed any, religious belief. Recommended.”

—Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-Ray.com

See the full review at blu-ray.com

AllMusic Reviews Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia

James Manheim gives 4.5 stars to Cappella Romana’s Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia recording on AllMusic:

“This release by Cappella Romana first appeared in late 2019 but acquired new relevance and promotional energy with the Islamization of the Hagia Sophia in mid-2020: the ‘lost voices’ of the title now seem to be lost permanently, although recordings in the giant sixth-century structure had long since already been banned. What’s heard here is a pioneering endeavor… Even the basic CD yields remarkable sounds, and for audiophiles with the equipment and wherewithal to go deeper, this will be an essential purchase. … Cappella Romana has a remarkable sound with lots of head tones, and even listeners with no interest in the engineering wizardry will find the singing and the music compelling. An extraordinary release.”

—James Manheim, AllMusic

See the full review on allmusic.com

Cappella Romana Awarded Major Grant

Cappella Romana is pleased to announce the award of a major grant from the State of Oregon’s Coronavirus Relief Fund Cultural Support program.

“Music Director Alexander Lingas and I are thrilled with this award,” says Executive Director Mark Powell. “We are planning in earnest to produce artistic programming that we can now consider during COVID, including full provisions for safety of all artists and production staff.”

Mark Powell continued, “Programs we couldn’t have imagined pulling off before are now far more feasible, funded in part with this grant award combined with the generous support of our loyal donors and patrons.”

See the full announcement for the award on the Oregon Cultural Trust website.

Celebrating Arvo Pärt’s 85th Birthday

Arvo Pärt at 85

Happy birthday to one of the world’s most performed composers

As we remember 9/11 today, we also note today is Arvo Pärt’s 85th Birthday. 

In 2017, Cappella Romana mounted the first festival in the US dedicated to the music of Arvo Pärt. Here’s an interview Alexander Lingas gave just before the festival.

Here, listen to Pärt’s iconic setting of the Magnificat, performed by our wonderful colleagues from the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Hillier, who was an early guest conductor of Cappella Romana in the 1990s.

Theater Byte Gives Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia its Highest Recommendation

“Applying Professor Abel’s sound technology to the fifteen voices of Capella Romana creates an audio experience that few if any listeners will have ever heard. These disembodied voices, evoking the holy spirit of God, seem to come from everywhere and totally envelop the audience. … Put this Blu-ray Disc in your player, and push the Pure Audio button (if it has one). In short order, you will be transported to a literal and figurative audio heaven. Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia also will take you on a moving spiritual journey that will stay with you long after the final echoes have receded into the distance. Discs like this one that combines the very best in performance with the very best in sound are a rare source of revelation and will surely become a favorite demonstration disc at the annual audio/video trade shows. Highest recommendation.”

—Lawrence D. Devoe, TheaterByte

See the full review on TheaterByte.com

The Absolute Sound Declares Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia a Triumph

The Absolute Sound magazine’s September 2020 issue features an in-depth look at our Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia recording and declares it “A triumph of scholarship, musicianship, and technology.”

“For many critical listeners, and not just readers of this magazine, the absolute sound—the sound of live, unamplified music in a real space—is a touchstone…The venue chosen for performance or recording can support an understanding of music’s meaning in a powerful way. There is, however, one extraordinary acoustic space that for cultural and geopolitical reasons has been unheard for centuries… The sound is extraordinary…. What Icons of Sound achieved with the Hagia Sophia project leads me to expect that this singular joining of scholarship, musicianship, and advanced audio technology will continue to illuminate the significance of music from the distant past.”

—Andrew Quint

—Andrew Quint

See the full feature in the September 2020 issue of The Absolute Sound magazine.