KING FM Northwest Focus features They Are At Rest

They are at Rest: A Remembrance of the 1918 Armistice

They are at Rest: A Remembrance of the 1918 Armistice
In the lead up to our They Are At Rest series, Seattle’s KING FM will be previewing the performance on the Northwest Focus program Monday-Thursday of next week (11/5-8/2018).

Date

Time

Music

Monday, November 5
8:08pm
Parry: Songs of Farewell – There is an old belief

 

Tuesday, November 6
8:02pm
Parry: Songs of Farewell – I know my soul hath power

 

Wednesday, November 7
9:14pm
Parry: Songs of Farewell – My soul, there is a country

 

Thursday, November 8
8:22pm
Parry: Songs of Farewell – Never, weather-beaten sail

 

They are at Rest

9 & 11 Nov, 2018

Seattle and Portland

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The History of the Remembrance Poppy

They are at Rest: A Remembrance of the 1918 Armistice

During Cappella Romana’s They Are At Rest performances in Seattle (Nov. 9) and Portland (Nov. 11), the singers will be wearing poppies supplied by the American Legion – and will make them available to audience members – so we thought we’d look back at the “History of the Poppy” as set out by the Royal British Legion:

“During the First World War (1914–1918) much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over, again and again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.

Bright red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) however, were delicate but resilient flowers and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction. In early May 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies to write a now-famous poem called In Flanders Fields.

McCrae’s poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin. The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’ raised over £106,000; a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing.”

Read more about the history at BritishLegion.org.uk

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.

They are at Rest

9 & 11 Nov, 2018

Seattle and Portland

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Ivor Gurney: “Since I Believe”

Ivor Gurney

They are at Rest: A Remembrance of the 1918 Armistice
Choir & Organ Magazine has a wonderful feature on the recent publication of Ivor Gurney’s Since I Believe in God the Father Almighty Motet. Cappella Romana is excited to be giving the North American premiere performance on our They Are At Rest series November 9 and 11, 2018:

Ivor Gurney

“Photograph of Ivor Gurney,” by Hall, R.. First World War Poetry Digital Archive

“Composed in June 1925, the motet for unaccompanied double choir sets a poem by the then Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges, which speaks of faith in the face of adversity. While Gurney is well known as a composer of song and as a poet of the first world war, he also composed in other forms. During the last decade, his orchestral works have been brought to recording and broadcast; his surviving chamber works have been trickling their way out of the archive, and likewise his few extant choral and organ works. … Since I Believe is a rare survivor. It was written in the asylum, where Gurney would spend the last 15 years of his life; for this reason it has been overlooked and – as with the numerous other missing late works – the manuscript likely destroyed. The motet survived only because a copy of the score was made for a possible try-through of the piece by the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, at the behest of Robert Bridges. … Whether this was ever achieved is unknown, but the piece was brought out of the archive by Philip Lancaster and given its first known performance by Gloucester Cathedral Choir, conducted by Adrian Partington, in 2012. … The two choirs at times shift against each other like tectonic plates, sometimes strange and uncompromising, but powerfully, melting with touching beauty into silence. The poem speaks of cherishing freedom of belief, but, from one incarcerated without hope, we can’t help but hear a vain desire for freedom from captivity.”

Choir & Organ Magazine

Read the full feature online

They are at Rest

9 & 11 Nov, 2018

Seattle and Portland

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Cappella Romana and Third Angle New Music share historic downtown workspace

PORTLAND, OR— The sounds of music, from medieval chant to math rock, are ringing out from a single set of offices in the Gus J. Solomon U.S. Courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Third Angle New Music is delighted to announce that it has established its new office in the top floor of the former courthouse, subleased to them by their friends Cappella Romana Vocal Ensemble. Since 2016, Cappella Romana has been housed in the 1932 Renaissance Revival-style courthouse, downtown across from the Newmark Theatre and the Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Cappella Romana and Third Angle have joined forces on projects such as Steve Reich: Music for 18 & Proverb, Frozen Music III: Light and Music in Alvar Aalto’s Library and most recently the Arvo Pärt Festival, but they’ve never collaborated like this before. Now the two will be sharing work space and conference rooms—and coffee supplies!—both looking forward to what new cooperative and cross marketing ideas will hatch from this fresh collaborative environment.

While the building is currently home to a variety of federal agencies as well as lawyers and non-profits, its courtrooms have primarily been used as film locations in the last few years. Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Timothy Hutton have all fought for fictional justice in the courtrooms here, now to be used as well for rehearsals, meetings, or events by either organization.

Mark Powell, Executive Director of Cappella Romana, explains, “Because a number of organizations have helped us in our history—and we welcomed Pacific Youth Choir into the building last year—we thought it again right to pay it forward by assisting Third Angle, whose work we admire and with whom we’ve collaborated many times.” In reply, Lisa Volle, the Third Angle Executive Director quipped “It is with great pride that we graciously accepted the offer to be roomies with Cappella Romana. Thank you, Mark Powell, for offering us a home in the nexus of art and culture in Portland, Oregon.”

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation – World Premiere Performances

Cappella Romana - Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Photos from our World Premiere Weekend for “Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation” in Seattle and Portland!

KING FM Northwest Focus features Heaven and Earth: The Song of Creation

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation
In the lead up to our Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation series, Seattle’s KING FM will be previewing the performance on the Northwest Focus program on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (10/10-11/2018).

Date

Time

Music

Wednesday, October 10
9:30pm
Tikey Zes: Cherubic Hymn (from The Divine Liturgy)

 

Thursday, October 11
8:29pm
Tikey Zes: Communion Verse for Sundays (from The Divine Liturgy)

 

Notes on Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Dedicated to Richard Toensing (+2014) and Archimandrite Ephrem Lash (+2016) of blessed memory

Program Notes by Richard Barrett, Artistic Director, The Saint John of Damascus Society

The Saint John of Damascus Society is a sacred arts nonprofit that seeks to raise general awareness of the rich, diverse heritage of Orthodox sacred music. In 2012, our founding board president, Dr. Harold (“Hal”) Sabbagh, was inspired by the European Organization for Nuclear Research’s 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle that enables objects to have mass. Dr. Sabbagh wanted to celebrate this achievement through the music of Orthodox Christianity, and we hit upon Psalm 103 (LXX numbering), sung or read at every Orthodox Vespers service, as the concept’s vehicle. The psalmist here praises the divinely created order from the very large to the very small, from the seas to the heavens, exclaiming, “How magnified are your works, O Lord, in wisdom have You made them all, and the earth has been filled with your creation.”

We decided that the psalmist’s text lent itself to the idea of “unity in diversity,” which parallels the richness of Orthodoxy’s sung worship, whether we are speaking of Russian choral music, Byzantine chant, Georgian polyphony, or some of the American expressions that are emerging influenced by elements of all of those things. With this in mind, we approached six very different Orthodox composers with a challenge: collaborate on a setting of Psalm 103 intended for concert performance, in which each of you will set a section of the psalm in your own musical voice, while still finding a way to make it sound like a cohesive, unified piece of music.

The six composers we approached, Matthew Arndt, John Michael Boyer, Alexander Khalil, Kurt Sander, Richard Toensing, and Tikey Zes, all looked at us like we were out of our minds; then they all said “Yes, of course.”

We also conceived of a film project as the project’s final phase. Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos TV series (1980), a masterpiece of public engagement, served as a touchstone here, particularly in the way that it juxtaposed images of the macroscopic, such as galaxies, quasars, and the like, and the microscopic, such as DNA and subatomic particles, with music – Bach, Mozart, Vangelis, and beyond. Inspired by Sagan’s work, we planned it out so that once we had the music recorded, we would collaborate creatively with a filmmaker to produce a film project that would be a cinematic meditation on science and faith from a uniquely Eastern Orthodox perspective, using the music as the jumping-off point.

In October 2013, we brought all of our composers together for a working weekend. They needed to wrestle with the new translation of the psalm that Archimandrite Ephrem Lash of blessed memory (+2016) had produced for us, and they needed to figure out how their own musical idioms ought to be integrated with one another. There was some trepidation in the air; they were having to trust a vision they did not fully understand initially, and nobody knew exactly how this collaboration between the six of them was going to work. Thankfully, the common language the composers had as practicing liturgical musicians in the Orthodox Church emerged very early in the process. As they discussed the psalm’s context in the Vespers service and demonstrated to each other different ways to sing it in different repertories, the uncertainties lifted quite suddenly. Two days after this “aha!” moment propelled the idea into a more concrete reality for the composers, they had come up with a schema for the work, and they all went home to compose.

Richard Toensing was the first one to submit a completed score, sending it along in the early spring of 2014. It is a tremendous and ambitious piece of work, scored for an eight part double choir. In May of that year, as we were trying to coordinate a follow-up composers’ meeting, he emailed me saying, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to make it.” By July 2014 Richard had left us; may his memory be eternal.

In June of 2015, the last sections were turned in, and we set about to bringing it to life. The piece was always intended for Cappella Romana and was tailored to their manifold strengths, and they graciously agreed to take it on. Following these concerts, we will begin planning the recording in earnest, as we will also start to consider the film project.

I am indebted of course to our composers, Matthew, John, Alexander, Kurt, Tikey, and of course our absent friend Richard, who are the co-creators of this vision’s centerpiece. I have no adequate means to thank another absent friend, Fr. Ephrem, whose translation for us determined to a large degree the work’s character, in no small part because it was the common ground that every composer shared.

I must also offer my gratitude to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for his blessing of the The Psalm 103 Project. His leadership with respect to the dialogue between the religious and scientific communities has been a major influence for us, and his interest, prayers, and encouragement have been a humbling gift.

It has been our objective to ensure that the whole of The Psalm 103 Project stands on the own merits of its individual parts; that is to say, that Heaven and Earth be a piece of sacred music worthy of a life beyond the premiere performances, and that regardless of it being the basis of a film that is yet to be made, it is not heard as merely a movie score. And also, yes, that the film, when it is produced, will also be seen as a good film, and not merely a vehicle for the music. My hope is that these premiere performances will inspire in its own way, and that audiences will discover in it, not just musical beauty, but serious spiritual reflection about the nature of God’s Creation and how He reveals it to us.

Τῷ Θεῷ δόξα. How magnified are your works, O Lord, in wisdom have You made them all, and the earth has been filled with your creation.

TICKETS AND INFORMATION

The Psalm 103 Project

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation

Cappella Romana’s Heaven and Earth: A Song of Creation Series (October 12-14, 2018) is a collaboration with the Saint John of Damascus Society. A musical meditation on Psalm 103 (“Bless the Lord, O my soul”), the Orthodox Vesperal Psalm, the program premieres a new setting of the Psalm by six Orthodox composers. The Saint John of Damascus Society’s Artistic Director, Richard Barrett, gives some background information on how the project and collaboration came to be:

“Hal Sabbagh, the president of the Saint John of Damascus Society’s Executive Board, is an electrical engineer with a PhD. He’s a scientist by any definition of the word; he’s also, I can tell you, a very faithful man. For Hal, there is no inherent conflict in being a scientist of faith; “When I’m working out an equation,” he’s told me before, “I’m talking to God in His own language.”

In July of 2012, Hal was very excited about CERN’s discovery of the Higgs boson, the “God particle”. We were having one of those conversations that was about everything all at once, including things like what he wanted inscribed on his casket (which I won’t say, specifically, but it’s very much in keeping with the kind of man he is; I just told him, “Hal, as far as I’m concerned, you’re going to live forever, but I’ll make sure that it happens”), when he brought up the Higgs report. “You see,” he said, very intently, “I think Orthodoxy has something to say about this through our liturgical music. What would be the hymn that could be relevant to this kind of thing?”

I thought about it, and what I came up with was the Vesperal psalm, Psalm 103 (104), with all of its language of God’s glory being revealed in Creation. There are many different musical versions of Psalm 103 used in the Orthodox Churches of North America, with Fr. Sergei Glagolev’s setting certainly being an old favorite for a lot of people (and rightfully so!).

I had also been listening a lot to the Cappella Romana disc Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium, which starts off with a haunting reconstruction of how Psalm 103 would have been sung in Palestinian practice, followed by the current Byzantine practice of singing the Anoixantaria, the verses starting with “When you open your hand all things will be filled with goodness…”, in a slow, melismatic texture.

I mentioned some of the verses from the psalm, and Hal got very excited. “Yes,” he said, “that’s exactly what we’re looking for. Could we commission a setting of it? And if we did, how could we use it as a way to talk about science and faith?”

Well, sure, we could, I said… but as I thought about it more, I realized that if we were interested in using such a piece to reach a wider audience on a theme of contemporary significance, there was something that we could do that might be more intriguing.…

Continue Reading on the Psalm 103 Project website

Oregon ArtsWatch Review for The Vigil

The Vigil

 
The Vigil

Oregon ArtsWatch contributor Friderike Heuer shares a review from our Sunday performance of The Vigil at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland:

“I cannot even remember the last time I had goosebumps like this while listening to live music.…I sat on a Sunday afternoon in a church attempting to hold back tears and racking my brain trying to remember what I knew about Sergei Rachmaninov, about his choral work All-Night Vigil, op.37 just so the emotions wouldn’t overwhelm me. … Cappella Romana was joined by a basso profundo, Glenn Miller, whose voice and ability to project were marvels. Soloist Joseph Muir sang lyrically without giving in to the tenor’s temptation to emote – it was a masterfully restrained performance fitting the sacral setting. And Benedict Sheehan, the conductor, managed to keep all the interlocking parts beautifully transparent, and balanced”

Friderike Heuer, Oregon ArtsWatch

Full review on OrArtsWatch.org and see photos on Friderike Heuer’s blog.

One performance remaining – Saturday, September 29, 8pm in San Francisco!

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KING FM Northwest Focus features The Vigil


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

Date

Time

Music

 

Monday, September 17
8:08
Rachmaninoff: Vespers – Kontakion of the Mother of God

 

Tuesday, September 18
8:09
Rachmaninoff: Vespers – Ave Maria

 

Thursday, September 20
8:00
Rachmaninoff: Vespers – Nunc dimittis