In the lead-up to The Vigil series, Seattle’s KING FM will be previewing the performance on the Northwest Focus program on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of this week (9/17,18,20/2018). See when to tune in to hear recordings from the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil!
When To Listen
Monday, September 17
Rachmaninoff: Vespers – Kontakion of the Mother of God
Among singers, they’re known as basso profundos. In Russian Orthodox music, they are referred to as oktavists. Whatever you call them, they are one of the rarest – and lowest – voice parts, often singing a full octave below the normal bass range, adding new dimension and depth to the sound of an ensemble.
To open the 2018-19 season, Cappella Romana is thrilled to welcome one of North America’s best basso profundos, Grammy Award-winner Glenn Miller. Miller is sought after not only for his distinctive deep voice, but for his abilities as an interpreter of Russian choral repertoire. (Read his bio here.) Cappella Romana audiences may remember Miller from his performances of Rautavaara’s Vigil with the ensemble in 2017.
He is a natural fit for The Vigil, a program that centers around Sergei Rachmaninoff’s great masterpiece, the All-Night Vigil (also known as the “Vespers”). Rachmaninoff’s Vigil explores the depths of spiritual devotion – and human voices – and has remained one of the most popular choral works in the repertoire since its composition in 1915.
Cappella Romana’s dedication to authenticity and world-class musicianship informs their unique take on this perennial favorite. Under the direction of guest conductor Benedict Sheehan (St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Pennsylvania), the concert will place Rachmaninoff’s music in the context of a more complete Orthodox Vigil, with the addition psalms and hymn settings by Russian composers including Nikolai Danilin and Alexander Gretchaninoff.
Blending the passionate harmonies of Rachmaninoff’s music with some of the Northwest’s finest acoustic spaces, The Vigil will resonate with you long after Glenn Miller’s final low B-flat.
Dr. Lingas said “I am humbled to receive this title from His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. I am also deeply grateful to His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios for his thoughtfulness and kind support of my scholarly, professional and pastoral musical work in the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.”
The title of Mousikodidaskalos was created in modern times primarily to honour individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the teaching and academic study of Byzantine chant. In ancient times, such titles were bestowed by the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire to officials of the imperial court.
This is Dr. Lingas’s second major award for musical service to the Orthodox Church. In 2010, the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese awarded him the St Romanos the Melodist Medallion
Dr. Lingas was awarded his new title at a service officiated by Archbishop Gregorios Theocharous, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. It took place at the chapel of the Archdiocese, at Thyateira House in London.
Bruce Browne reviewed Cappella Romana’s Saturday, April 28, 2018 performance of Venice in the East for Oregon ArtsWatch:
Present were exquisite moments of choral artistry, impeccable tuning, bravura singing by all and thoughtful phrasing, especially by John Michael Boyer and Mark Powell, who together stood at the pinnacle of the solo work, especially many of the delicious priestly intonations.…
The theme of this concert, Venice in the East, has historical appeal. Dr. Lingas presented a musical perspective of the close ties of Venice to Greece, particularly in Crete, beginning in the sixth century. The sharing of religious traditions – liturgy, ritual and music – was palpable in chant, embellishments and in text. …
In the first half, Photini Downie Robinson and Kerry McCarthy matched their voices in dissonant ecstasy in their duet “Cum autem venissent” (But when they came to the place) from the Liber Sacerdotalis. In the following pieces, listening to all the vivid ornaments, generated overtones, modal inflections, and multi hued colors was like watching a synchronized swimming team. …
The quality of scholarship and historic authenticity is a hallmark of Cappella Romana’s 27-year history.
They set a high bar in this regard and succeed…this concert was an indication of why the choir and Dr. Lingas are known and respected around the world.”
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an ArtWorks grant of $10,000 to Cappella Romana to launch a new three-concert series in San Francisco.
The ArtWorks category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.
“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Cappella Romana, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”
“We are thrilled with the endorsement of our work by the NEA,” said Mark Powell, executive director of Cappella Romana. “Cappella Romana has the power to engage audiences all over the world, and we are looking forward to sharing three beautiful programs in San Francisco at the very place where Cappella Romana gave its first concert in 1991.”
After a successful presentation in January 2018 of The 12 Days of Christmas in the East in San Francisco, Cappella Romana will launch its series there with three concerts in the 2018-19 season, all at St. Ignatius Parish, 650 Parker Avenue on Fulton Street, in the heart of San Francisco:
Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil “Vespers” Saturday, 29 September 2018 8:00 pm
Christmas in Ukraine Choral Concerto & Carols Saturday, 5 January 2019 8:00 pm
Venice the East: Renaissance Crete Saturday, 11 May 2019 8:00 pm
Rachmaninoff’s masterpiece, directed by Slavic choral expert Benedict Sheehan
Including the Choral Concerto for Christmas by Dmitri Bortnianksy, directed by Ukrainian music scholar and conductor Marika Kuzma.
Directed by music director and founder Alexander Lingas, the Eastertide program commissioned from Cappella Romana by the Utrecht Early Music Festival in the Netherlands. With CD release.
Seattle’s The SunBreak reviews Cappella Romana’s April 27, 2018 Venice in the East performance:
“Hearing Cappella Romana singing in St. James Cathedral is to hear a slice of heaven. … As always, the presentation was scholarly, as accurate a portrayal of the music as it would have been performed as can be ascertained through diligent research. … Within that steady beat and minimal dynamic range (mostly medium loud), the group could still bring out expressivity. Thus one piece sounded devout but on the cheerful side, another contemplative, another vigorous and full of praise. Throughout, there was a sense of serenity which washed over the listener.”