Cappella Romana to sing Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Orthodox Church, Portland

Cappella Romana, Portland’s professional vocal ensemble of international acclaim specializing in music of the Orthodox Church, will sing the Divine Liturgy at St. George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon, this Sunday, October 5, at 10:00am.

The ensemble will be led by John Michael Boyer, Protopsaltis (Chief Cantor) of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco and one of Cappella Romana’s principal singers. He is the primary adapter and transcriber of chant in English for the ensemble’s latest CD release, Divine Liturgy in English in Byzantine Chant.

Members of Cappella Romana who will be joining us on Sunday are LeaAnne DenBeste (soprano), Catherine van der Salm (soprano), Jo Routh (alto), Les Green (tenor), Mark Powell (tenor and executive director of the ensemble), David Krueger (bass), and John S. Boyer (bass).

John S. Boyer is the father of John Michael and former choir director at St. George’s Orthodox Church. Some parishioners may remember John Michael Boyer as an infant, as he was churched at 40 days of age at Saint George’s.

Cappella Romana with Neal Stephenson at the Bagdad in Portland

Er, make that Neal “Stepheson.” At the Powell’s Books reading in Portland, Tuesday, September 16, at the Bagdad Theater.
Cappella Romana singers Mark Powell, Adam Steele, (Neal Stephenson), Paige Baker, David Krueger.

Neal Stephenson loves Byzantine music

Who would have thought that Neal Stephenson, one of the world’s most famous science fiction writers, would be a fan of Cappella Romana? He says his favorite type of chant is Byzantine Chant.

The music accompanying his new novel employs some singers from Cappella Romana. More info here, by its composer, David Stutz.

Living With Music:
A Playlist by Neal Stephenson

By Dwight Garner


* My favorite style of chant is Byzantine, which I learned about by attending concerts by the Portland, Oregon-based group Cappella Romana. The single most powerful piece of music I’ve heard in recent years is the “Lament for the Fall of Constantinople.” Close your eyes and you can almost see the Blachernae Walls crumbling before the onslaught of Sultan Mehmet’s colossal artillery. Cappella Romana have recorded this piece twice; I prefer the somewhat slower and longer version on their album “The Fall of Constantinople.”

Cappella Romana in the New York Review of Books

Cappella Romana and its founder and artistic director Alexander Lingas were lauded in the New York Review of Books this week.

Read the full review [subscription]. Or buy it on the newsstands.

The New York Review of Books, Volume 55, Number 14 · September 25, 2008

Brilliant, Beautiful & Byzantine
By G.W. Bowersock

Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire
by Judith Herrin
Princeton University Press, 392 pp., $29.95

“The music of Byzantium, to which Herrin might have considered allotting a chapter, is no less overwhelming than the places in which it is performed. The success of the contemporary Cappella Romana chamber ensemble, ably directed by Alexander Lingas of London, introduces modern listeners to the sounds that filled the churches of Byzantium no less than the light of their lamps.”

Cappella Romana completes Finnish Recording sessions

Cappella Romana has completed another set of sessions for a future CD release, this time of music from the Finnish Orthodox Church. The photo here is from a free recital presented in advance of the sessions on Sunday, September 7, at St. Agatha’s Church in Sellwood, Portland.

Dr. Lingas to give lecture for London’s Royal Academy: ‘Byzantine Psalmody to 1453’

In conjunction with the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition, Byzantium 330-1453:

Dr Alexander Lingas, Senior Lecturer in Music at City University and founder and artistic director of Cappella Romana, will survey the development of liturgical music in Byzantium from its origins in the congregational psalmody of Late Antiquity to the ecstatic compositions of St John Koukouzeles and Manuel Chrysaphes in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A small ensemble of accomplished Byzantine cantors (including Cappella Romana’s John Michael Boyer) will musically illustrate the presentation.

7 Nov 2008, 6:30pm, The College Chapel, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2

For more information, click here.

Dr. Alexander Lingas returns from London to host ARCTIC LIGHT

Dr. Alexander Lingas returns from London to host
ARCTIC LIGHT: Finnish Orthodox Music
Free Recital & Reception – Sunday, Sept. 7 |
YouTube Sample

Thanks to a low-fare flight and a last-minute change in schedule, we’re happy to announce that Dr. Alexander Lingas, founder and artistic director of Cappella Romana, will return to the Northwest this weekend.

Dr. Lingas will present his friend and colleague Fr. Ivan Moody in Portland at Sunday’s free recital and will host the post-concert reception with patrons and donors.

Sunday, September 7, 4:00 p.m.
St. Agatha’s Catholic Church in Sellwood
1430 SE Nehalem Street (at 15th)
Portland RSVP (scroll down to add your name)

Wine & Appetizers to follow:

  • Hosted by Dr. Alexander Lingas, meet Rev. Dr. Ivan Moody, internationally celebrated composer and conductor (and now Orthodox priest), along with Cappella Romana’s extraordinary singers.
  • Bring your checkbook or credit card to make a gift in support of Cappella Romana’s recording of Arctic Light: Finnish Orthodox Music.

PHOTO: Dr. Lingas and Rev. Dr. Moody following Rev. Moody’s ordination to the Orthodox priesthood in Lisbon, Portugal, October 7, 2007.

With thanks to the Finlandia Foundation, and the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, Portland.

Pre concert speakers

Pre-Concert Talks on CYPRUS | Two speakers:

Dr. Harry Anastasiou (Portland); Dr. Alexander Lingas (Seattle)

Talks are at 7:00pm, prior to the concerts


Cyprus: a tapestry of cultures
By Dr. Harry Anastasiou

Dr. Harry Anastasiou will deliver a presentation focusing on the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus from the perspective of its rich and complex history, its multi-cultural influences and its past and present conflicts. While Cyprus is predominantly comprised of 80% Greeks and 18% Turks, its culture, history and struggles is intertwined with a multitude of other cultures and peoples, and with the major events that have marked and shaped Eastern and Western European history.
Dr. Anastasiou will elaborate on these unique features of Cypriot society but will pay particular attention to the protracted Cyprus conflict and the currently unfolding hopes for inter-ethnic peace as Cyprus assumes its place within the regional democracy of the European Union.


Greeks and Latins in Medieval Cyprus
By Dr. Alexander Lingas

Cappella Romana’s founding Artistic Director Dr. Lingas will discuss the interactions between Greeks and Latins living on the island of Cyprus in the Middle Ages. Beginning when Cyprus was still under the control of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperors, Dr. Lingas will address its conquest by Richard I of England (the Lionhearted) in the 12th century followed by the long reign of the French Lusignan dynasty, who held most of the island until Ottoman forces took Cyprus in 1571.

Arctic Light on Performance Today

Before we send out our next e-newsletter (about our next live concerts of music from Cyprus), I wanted to let you know that part of our recent program Arctic Light (January 2008) will be broadcast this Friday on the nationally syndicated radio program Performance Today, in honor of Orthodox Holy Week (Orthodox Pascha, or Easter, is this coming Sunday). The program will also be available via streaming for 7 days following the broadcast.

Here is the notice from Performance Today:

This Friday, April 25, 2008, Performance Today will broadcast Cappella Romana’s performance of Pääsiäissunnuntain Iikossi and Pääsiäisen Eksapostilaari by Leonid Bashmakov from St. Mary’s Cathedral January 11, 2008.

American Public Media’s Performance Today is broadcast on 250 public radio stations across the country and is heard by about 1.4 million people each week. Each station individually decides what time to air the program. To find out where and when Performance Today is broadcast in your area, please visit

You may also visit, an independent website that can point the way to on-line listening. Many radio stations stream their signal on the internet, so it may be possible for you to tune in to a radio station across the country and hear Performance Today by visiting that station’s website at the time they air it.

Performance Today is also carried on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Symphony Hall Channel (channel 80), Monday through Friday from 1 pm to 2 pm ET. This Friday’s show will be available on our website for seven days. We also archive many interviews, Studio MMW performances, Piano Puzzlers, and other features on our website.

Performance Today

Tudor Choir receives rave review

Tudor Choir’s performance in Portland was attended by over 550 people. Here is the first review to appear:

On Northwest Reverb.

Sunday, March 30, 2008
Review: Tudor Choir reaches for the sublime in concert of early music

The Tudor Choir gave an outstanding concert of sacred music from Tudor England and the Sistine Chapel on Saturday evening at St. Mary’s Cathedral. For this concert, the Tudor Choir, under the direction of Doug Fullington, consisted of eleven singers although some of the pieces required fewer. The Seattle-based ensemble, presented by Portland’s Cappella Romana, made excellent use of the cathedral’s opulent acoustics and held the audience spellbound with their vocal artistry.

Most impressive was the extremely well-matched quality of the voices in this ensemble. The transition of tone from singer to singer was absolutely seamless. For example, among the sopranos, it was impossible to tell which one was singing unless you actually looked at them. With so few singers, it is usually easy to distinguish one voice from another, because each voice typically has enough unique character to help reveal who is singing what. Yet The Tudor Choir easily made eight voices sound like four whenever two voices were on a part, and that gave their sound an ethereal quality.

Superb also was the purity of the vocal line. Whether separate or together, the ensemble delivered a smooth, pure, and rounded tone with no vibrato. The tone never sounded harsh or sterile, and the overall effect was entrancing. All of the pieces were sung a capella, and there were no pitch problems at all – a remarkable feat when you consider the difficulty of this music.

The first half of the program consisted of music from Tudor England. The first piece was Loquebantur variis linguis (Speaking in different tongues) by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585), which is a vespers response to the theme of Pentecost. The music imitates the babble of voices with lots of tricky entrances and clashing harmonics. The Tudor Choir handled this number easily and displayed a near-perfect blend between all of the parts.

The high quality of blend and purity of vocal line was exhibited by the ensemble also in Quemadmodum desiderat cervus (As the deer longs for) by John Taverner (c. 1490-1545), Super flumina Babylonis (By the waters of Babylon) by Philippe de Monte (1521-1603), and in three pieces by William Byrd (1539/40-1623): Miserere mei (Have mercy on me), Quomodo cantabimus conticum Domini (How will we sing the Lord’s song), and Laudibus in sanctis (In holy praises). Here and there the sopranos were too dominant, but their tone was so gorgeous that it didn’t matter.

The second half of the concert began with Allegri’s Miserere mei, Deus, one of the most difficult pieces in the choral repertory because of the repeated high C for the soprano in the quartet. Since this piece was written for two ensembles, the Tudor Choir split in half with five voices in front of the audience and four at our backs.

The soprano did very well with the high Cs, which she hit spot on the first three times. She did a big scoop to get the fourth high C, and she climbed three steps to get the last one. These last two variations were apparently done differently as additional ornamentation. They struck me as a bit odd, but the overall effect of the music was tremendously gratifying and the audience responded with sustained applause.

The final pieces on the program were five works by Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) whose work is seen by musicologists as a summation of Renaissance polyphony. The ensemble sang Palestrina’s Tue es Petrus (You are Peter), Sicut cervus desiderat (As the deer longs for), Alma redemptoris mater (Gracious Mother of the Redeemer), his Magnificat for double choir, and his Nunc Dimittis for double choir. The Tudor Choir performed each of these pieces with grace and clarity. The blend seemed to get better, because the sopranos backed off a little bit and the middle voices came out a little more.

After an extended round of applause, in which it was clear that no one in the audience wanted to leave, The Tudor Choir exquisitely performed Libera Nos, Salva Nos by John Shepherd (1512-1563). Another long round of applause followed, but the listeners were faced with the fact that this splendid concert was finally over. Let’s hope that Tudor Choir makes another visit to Portland in the near future.
Posted by James Bash at 10:29 PM