Cappella Romana Aims to Reschedule Concert before His All-Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch

A Time for Life by Robert Kyr

In February of this year, Cappella Romana received an invitation from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to sing for His All-Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.

The concert was to take place in May at the University of Notre Dame where the “Green Patriarch” was to receive an honorary doctorate for His All-Holiness’s tireless work towards “environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility” (Time Magazine). 

Cappella Romana, with members of the Delgani String Quartet, planned to perform Robert Kyr’s environmental oratorio A Time for Life, inspired by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Patriarch’s visit and the concert will not happen at this time. The work was also to have been performed in the Bay Area on the same weekend.

When the world is safe again, Cappella Romana hopes A Time for Life can be performed with an even deeper impact.

“Ever since the environmental initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I inspired Robert Kyr to compose A Time for Life, the members of Cappella Romana have hoped to perform this moving oratorio in the presence of His All-Holiness,” said Alexander Lingas, Cappella Romana Music Director and Founder. “Although postponed due to the present crisis, we continue to look forward to that blessed occasion.”

CD of A Time for Life available here.

Alexander Lingas’s Cappella Romana Playlist: The Akáthistos & Great Lent

Alexander Lingas_Cappella Romana_Board and Staff

Although the Coronavirus crisis is temporarily preventing our wonderful artists from gathering to sing for you, I will be creating a series of playlists featuring music taken not only from Cappella Romana’s commercially released CDs, but also from our archive of live recordings.

This, my first playlist, features selections from two services of the Byzantine tradition of worship for the penitential season of Great Lent.

Thanks to the generous support of people like you, we will soon be broadcasting livestreams of past concerts, as well as releasing new resources for Byzantine chanting in English from Cappella Romana’s Associate Director, Protopsaltis John Michael Boyer.

Best wishes,

Alexander

Alexander Lingas, Ph.D.
Founder and Music Director
Cappella Romana

—Alexander Lingas

Support Cappella Romana

Glinka: Let My Prayer Be Set Forth

Glagolev: Now the Powers of Heaven

Moody: First Koukoulion

Zes: To You the Champion Leader

With profound thanks to all

by Mark Powell, Executive Director

Dear friends of Cappella Romana,

I am humbled to report that our livestream concert has now, at last count, reached nearly 80,000 people worldwide.

As a result, we have decided to keep the livestream link up at least for a few more days. You can still view it here, with or without a facebook account.

I would like to express my deepest thanks to so many in our audience all over the world who made donations during the livestream.

Your gifts helped us pay for many extra last-minute expenses, including hiring the video crew.

Portland Baroque Orchestra donated the use of their video equipment: again thank you Abby and Matt! And St. Mary’s Cathedral made available their wired internet connection, for which we are deeply grateful: thank you Monsignor Pat, Jennifer, Sister Connie, Mary Jo, and Alex.

Through all of this we also honored the contracts of our professional artists, and are heartened to see that many other companies are doing similarly.

The following is the letter I included in the program book for this concert, including especially recognition of the Pacific Youth Choir, who were unable to participate in this livestream performance.

Thank you again for your support of Cappella Romana.


Thank you for being with us “virtually” for this performance, now presented without an in-person audience, but with you at home watching online. I am grateful to my colleague Abigail McKee from Portland Baroque Orchestra who loaned us their video streaming equipment free of charge and assisted us in making the virtual concert possible.

And thank you for supporting this important music that, in my view, has the greatest potential to soothe and calm us in times of distress.

This project has been in the making for nearly two years, after I heard Pacific Youth Choir’s amazing skills at their annual summer retreat. I am also grateful to Mia Hall Miller and Brandon Brack as well as Ruth Finn and Maria Karlin at PYC for their tireless efforts to make this project a success.

It is tragic and regrettable that all the months of hard work that Pacific Youth Choir did to prepare for this project went without a performance, however we are looking at the future to make something happen on that front!

Our rehearsals for this project have shown us­­­—adults who are active as professional singers—that the new generation holds out great hope for excellence in choral music in the future.

Thanks also to my dear friend and colleague Benedict Sheehan who crafted and led a beautiful program for PYC and Cappella Romana to sing together.

The program is now performed only by our professional singers, whose contracts have been honored even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Finally, I want to say something very important: Please make a gift to the performing arts today. Don’t wait, and it doesn’t have to be to Cappella Romana or to Pacific Youth Choir. Just support an organization you truly love, because they will need your support to carry on their work that serves you and the world, in the short and long term. Thank you.

Yours always,

Mark Powell, Executive Director
Cappella Romana

PROGRAM

  • Peter Tchaikovsky: Divine Liturgy, with:
  • Kalinnikov: First Antiphon
  • Sheehan: Second Antiphon, Alleluiarion
  • Rachmaninoff: Beatitudes, from his Divine Liturgy
  • Chesnokov: Choral concerto, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord”, feat. Fotina Naumenko
  • Tcherninov: Many years (sung in English)

Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy: UPDATES (Safety and Live-Streaming)

Tchaikovsky: Divine Liturgy
Tchaikovsky: All-Night Vigil
Tchaikovsky: Divine Liturgy LIVE

Broadcast live from St. Mary's Cathedral, Portland, Oregon.

Posted by Cappella Romana on Saturday, 14 March 2020
Live concert feed

UPDATE:

The Saturday night performance of Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy will take place as planned at 7:30 p.m., as a live-streamed performance without an in-person audience.

To ensure that you don’t miss this experience, the concert will be streamed on Facebook Live for you to enjoy—safely—at home. We will also make available a PDF of the program book so that you can follow along.

The link to the video stream will be on our website.

The 16 professional adult singers of Cappella Romana will perform the program Saturday before you—a virtual audience!

However, Pacific Youth Choir has opted not to take part in the concert. Their decision was made in alignment with Governor Kate Brown’s order banning gatherings of 250 or more, and with Portland Public Schools proactively suspending events that bring large groups of students, adults, and community members together.

If you are a ticket holder, we ask kindly that you consider donating your tickets back to Cappella Romana; you will be issued a receipt for your tax-deductible gift.

As you can imagine, any loss of ticket revenue has significant financial impact on us.

You may also exchange your ticket for our May concert—the world premiere of Robert Kyr’s All-Night Vigil.

For assistance, do contact our new Operations & Communications Manager, Julia Sheridan, * [email protected]*, or at 503-236-8202.

We are so thankful for your continued support of excellent choral singing in our community, with Cappella Romana, Pacific Youth Choir, and so many other choirs in our region.

We are here and happy to help you. Stay safe.

Yours sincerely,

Mark

Mark Powell
Executive Director, Cappella Romana

PROGRAM

  • Peter Tchaikovsky: Divine Liturgy, with:
  • Kalinnikov: First Antiphon
  • Sheehan: Second Antiphon, Alleluiarion
  • Rachmaninoff: Beatitudes, from his Divine Liturgy
  • Chesnokov: Choral concerto, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord”, feat. Fotina Naumenko
  • Tcherninov: Many years (sung in English)

Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy: Program Notes

Tchaikovsky: All-Night Vigil
Tchaikovsky: All-Night Vigil

Russian choral artistry, and especially its sacred choral singing, has long enjoyed the admiration of the Western musical world. After hearing the Choir of the Imperial Chapel of St. Petersburg in 1844, Robert Schumann wrote in his diary that “the Chapel is the most wonderful choir we have ever had the occasion of hearing.”

Hector Berlioz was even more effusive about this same ensemble, writing in 1847 that it “surpasses everything we have in Europe… To compare the choral performance in the Sistine Chapel in Rome with these wondrous singers is the same as comparing a miserable little troupe of fiddlers in a third-rate Italian theater with the orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire.” Already in 1824 the Choir of the Imperial Chapel was renowned enough across Europe to be asked to give the world premiere of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, one of the most demanding choral pieces of its time, and one that still challenges any choir that attempts it today. 

Yet at the same time as Russian choral singing was undergoing a remarkable flowering in terms of technical achievement during the first half of the 19th century, Russia had, as yet, produced a surprisingly modest number of sacred choral compositions that anyone nowadays particularly admires, or even remembers. Before 1880 it would have seemed to an outsider that Russia was destined to be a nation that performed sacred choral music, but that had little interest in producing it themselves. Even the few dozen works from the 18th and early 19th centuries that are acknowledged today as masterworks are, with few exceptions, little more than studies in Italian or German music. 

Here a careful student of music history might justly ask, what of Glinka, or Mussorgsky, or Borodin, or Dargomyzhsky? Weren’t they acknowledged Russian masters in the first half of the 19th century? Certainly they were. But—and here’s the material point—while they wrote superb instrumental and vocal music with a uniquely Russian voice, they and their contemporaries were effectively prohibited by law from publishing liturgical music. 

A little backstory is perhaps in order. Over the course of the 18th century, Russian church music had experienced a massive influx of new compositions by composers trained in the Italian style or simply imported from Italy (the so-called “Italianate Period” of Russian music), to the point that church services in many places had, quite literally, become concerts, showcases for music that often eclipsed—or even ran counter to—deeper religious goals. In 1816, in an effort to bring order to what had become a rather chaotic (and often tawdry) picture, Dmitri Bortniansky, then director of the Imperial Chapel, was given legal powers to censor the publication and dissemination of liturgical music. Bortniansky was a highly cultured musician, devout churchman, and masterful composer, and he doubtless meant well. However, in the hands of Bortniansky’s successors, this Decree of 1816 became a blunt legal instrument that served to stifle Russian church music for two generations. By 1871 there were only six names on the official list of approved church composers—Bortniansky himself, Alexei L’vov (Bortniansky’s immediate successor), Maksim Berezovsky (one title), and three others that are all but forgotten today (Makarov, Gribovich, and Vorotnikov). Vladimir Morosan writes: “the censorship process was so intimidating that individuals not connected directly with the Chapel did not even bother to submit works for consideration” (Choral Performance in Pre-Revolutionary Russia, 81 [1986]).

Enter Tchaikovsky. In early 1879, in collaboration with visionary music publisher Peter Jurgenson, Tchaikovsky published his new Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom without the approval of the then Imperial Chapel director, Nikolai Bakhmetev. Bakhmetev promptly banned publication of the Liturgy and ordered the printing plates to be confiscated. Jurgenson, however, turned around and counter-sued the Chapel, claiming that Tchaikovsky’s score was simply a concert work based on sacred texts and that the Chapel had no authority over music intended for concert performance. After a highly publicized legal battle, the court ruled in favor of Jurgenson in June of 1879, and in late 1880, Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy became available to the public. For the first time since 1816, new church music had been published in defiance of the Imperial Chapel’s regime. The floodgates stood open. After hearing the work performed in concert at the Moscow Conservatory in November of 1880, Tchaikovksy wrote in a letter to Nadezhda von Meck that this was “altogether one of the happiest moments of my musical career” (M. Tchaikovsky, The Life and Letters Peter Illich Tchaikovsky, 392 [1904]).

 In spite of a few half-hearted attempts to reassert dominance on the part of the Imperial Chapel, along with several attempts by the Synod of Moscow to institute its own system of censorship, Russian liturgical composition veritably exploded in the decades after the publication of Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy. Perhaps Russia was trying to make up for lost time. Morosan records that from the 1880s to 1917 “the output of this ‘new Russian school’ of sacred choral composition numbered over forty large-scale works and between nine hundred and one thousand shorter works by twenty-eight major composers” (ibid., 91). What the world now thinks of as “Russian choral music” almost entirely comes from this incredibly fertile thirty-year period leading up to the October Revolution, and all from the seed of Tchaikovsky’s unassuming yet masterful Liturgy.

Tonight’s concert therefore, more than being simply a performance of Tchaikovsky’s score, is a celebration of the Liturgy’s role in bringing about a flowering of creative expression in Russian sacred music. Without this piece (and the bold vision of its publisher) there would be no Rachmaninoff Vespers, no Grechaninov Passion Week, no Chesnokov, no Kastalsky. Hence, we have taken the liberty of adding in pieces by other composers—including two movements from my own newly published Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (2020)—in order to show how the work begun by Tchaikovsky continued in the decades after the publication of the Liturgy, and has continued even down to the present day in faraway English-speaking North America. We have also chosen to combine English and Church Slavonic in various parts of tonight’s performance, not simply for the sake of intelligibility, but because this is one very significant factor spurring the evolution of Russian sacred music today. One has only to look to one of this year’s Grammy-nominated recordings, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by American composer Kurt Sander (PaTRAM Institute Singers, Jermihov, 2018), to see that Tchaikovsky’s efforts are still bearing artistic fruit. So, perhaps more than anything else, tonight’s concert is an attempt to say “Thank you” to a composer who opened the door for the rest of us. Peter Illich Tchaikovsky, we owe you a debt of gratitude.

—Benedict Sheehan

PROGRAM

  • Peter Tchaikovsky: Divine Liturgy, with:
  • Kalinnikov: First Antiphon
  • Sheehan: Second Antiphon, Alleluiarion
  • Rachmaninoff: Beatitudes for double choir, from his Divine Liturgy
  • Chesnokov: Choral concerto, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord”, feat. Fotina Naumenko
  • Tcherninov: Many years (sung in English)

Seattle Concert of Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy is cancelled.

Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, and in light of the new recommendations by the King County Health Department, Cappella Romana’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, on Sunday, March 15 has been cancelled.    

After careful deliberation, we have decided not to take the 100 young singers of the Pacific Youth Choir and our artists to Seattle on this occasion.

We are aware that the risks are still very low, but are exhibiting as much caution as possible to ensure the health and welfare of all involved in the concert, both artists and patrons. Please know that while the only concert date will now be in Portland, we are honoring the contract for Pacific Youth Choir and our professional singers and will be paying them in full for both cities’ concerts.    

We are closely monitoring the situation and we are communicating directly with all patrons.

For assistance, do contact our new Operations & Communications Manager, Julia Sheridan, [email protected], or at 503-236-8202.

Thank you,

Mark Powell, Executive Director

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia Tops The Billboard Charts

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia - Billboard #1
Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia - Billboard #1

Billboard Magazine announced today that the #1 Traditional Classical Album for the week of March 7, 2020 was our Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia recording! Thank you to everyone who has purchased, downloaded, or streamed this important project! And if you haven’t listened to the NPR Weekend Edition broadcast about the album, listen here.

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia: Medieval Byzantine Chant

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Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia Featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition

Sam Harnett spoke with NPR’s Scott Simon this Saturday (February 22, 2020) about our Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia project and recording on NPR’s Weekend Edition! Listen on-demand now:

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia: Medieval Byzantine Chant

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Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia is Out TODAY!

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia: Medieval Byzantine Chant

Amazon Apple Music Spotify YouTube Music Qobuz Primephonic ArkivMusic Cappella Romana

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia: Medieval Byzantine Chant

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia is the first vocal album in the world to be recorded entirely in live virtual acoustics. It brings together art history, music history, performance, and technology to re-create medieval sacred sound in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia as an aural virtual reality.

With a stunning reverberation time of over 11 seconds, the acoustics of Hagia Sophia were measured and analyzed, and auralized in real-time on Cappella Romana’s performance by the Icons of Sound team at Stanford University (iconsofsound.stanford.edu).

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia presents more than 75 minutes of medieval Byzantine chant for the Feast of the Holy Cross in Constantinople, one of the greatest celebrations in the yearly cycle of worship at Hagia Sophia. This deluxe package (CD and Blu-rayTM) contains standard- and high-resolution stereo and surround-sound formats including Dolby Atmos™, as well as a bonus track and a 24-minute documentary film.

Enrich your experience of the music with in-depth essays, musical examples, and illustrations about the project in a 40-page booklet, which also presents all original Greek texts with translations in English. For a thousand years, Hagia Sophia was the largest enclosed space in the world. Let Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia transport you back in time to medieval sound and ritual in this monumental sixth-century cathedral.

Recorded at CCRMA, Stanford University. Stereo version mixed & mastered at Perfect Record, St. Paul, Minn. Surround-sound version mixed & mastered at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm Ltd. Company, Marin County, California.

Press

“my whole body shivered and the tears started up… as voices reverberated across every surface and light filtered through the smoke behind the singers, I looked around and saw many cheeks that were glistening. I wasn’t alone. It was everywhere, these tears, so I decided to stop trying to hide it, and just listen.” —Katie Herzog, The Stranger

“I’m fortunate to live in Portland, Oregon, where Cappella Romana is based, and I can tell you from personal experience their live concerts are often amazing, even if they’re not, as in this instance, absolutely drenched in the reverberant atmosphere of Turkey’s iconic Hagia Sophia cathedral, which is, as indicated above, “re-created” digitally for this often astounding release. … This is a stellar release all around, and Cappella Romana: Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia comesHighly recommended” —Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-Ray.com

5-Star Blu-Ray Review for Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia: Medieval Byzantine Chant

Blu-Ray.com gives our Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia Blu-Ray/CD a Five-Star Rating in a review by Jeffrey Kauffman:

I’m fortunate to live in Portland, Oregon, where Cappella Romana is based, and I can tell you from personal experience their live concerts are often amazing, even if they’re not, as in this instance, absolutely drenched in the reverberant atmosphere of Turkey’s iconic Hagia Sophia cathedral, which is, as indicated above, “re-created” digitally for this often astounding release. … This is a release where I highly recommend the Atmos or Auro-3D renderings if you’re so equipped, as the ambient decay (up to 12 seconds, as mentioned in the documentary) is rendered extremely well, with a noticeable vertical element, that is not nearly as evident in the stereo or even the 5.1 versions. The spill of the voices, with a slight “echo”, wafts through the surround channels quite “realistically” (for want of a better term), and the Atmos and Auro-3D renditions in particular preserve the almost dreamlike sonics that ensue from the long decay and “traveling” of the sound. … This new Cappella Romana offering should be a welcome addition for collectors who, like me, thrill to lossless audio, especially when it’s of such evocative music with such a stunning sonic “backdrop”. This is a stellar release all around, and Cappella Romana: Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia comes Highly recommended.”

—Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-Ray.com

Full Review on blu-ray.com

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