Cappella Romana (Arctic Light) in the Japanese Press

Cappella Romana’s Arctic Light was picked up by Jen Magazine, shown above.

Messiah performances sell out

Portland Baroque Orchestra’s performances of Handel’s Messiah, with Cappella Romana as the chorus, have all sold out (four performances).

The first two performances on Thursday and Friday included Russian Orthodox music by Titov and Bortniansky.

Limited seats are available at the door. More information may be found at

Cappella Romana in good company

David Stabler, classical music critic for the Oregonian, mentioned Cappella Romana’s concert in November 2007 as one of the highlights of the season, alongside a concert by the David York Ensemble, Trio Mediaeval, and last night’s concert of the Tallis Scholars.

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“I can’t remember a fall season of such extraordinary choral concerts, from Cappella Romana’s premiere of Robert Kyr’s rapturous environmental oratorio, “A Time for Life,” to the heavenly stillness of David York Ensemble’s performance of “Miserere” by Henryk Gorecki, to Trio Mediaeval’s Norwegian folk magic, to the elaborately arched beauty of the Tallis Scholars.

Lucky us. “

Arctic Light is coming

(Now Father) Ivan Moody rehearsing Cappella Romana in January 2006.


Fr. Ivan Moody, guest director

Mikko Sidoroff (b. 1985), Panihida (excerpts), Kerubiveisu
Boris Jakubov (1894-1923), Ehtooveisu (Phos hilaron)
Pekka Attinen (1885-1956), Kerubiveisu no.3
Leonid Bashmakov (b. 1927), Pääsiäissunnuntain Iikossi (Paschal Ikos), Pääsiäisen Eksapostilaari No.2 (Paschal Exaposilarion)
Timo Ruottinen (b. 1947), Pyhä Jumala, Alkupsalmi
Ivan Moody (b. 1964), Te Apostolit…
Peter Mirolybov (Mirola) (1918-2000), Music for the Dormition of the Mother of God

Recorded Samples:
Ruottinen: Psalm 103
Ruottinen: Ehtooveisu (Phos hilaron from Vespers)
Bashmakov: Beatitudes

Sound samples from the CD Oi Jumalansynnyttäjä / O Theotokos Mother of Life, sung by the parish choir of the Tampere Orthodox Church, conducted by Timo Ruottinen (rehearsal pianist was Leonid Bashmakov).

Ivan Moody (recently ordained an Orthodox priest) returns to Portland this January to conduct Finnish choral works never before heard outside Finland that combine shining Northern clarity with Russian sonic richness. Moody is well known for his works for Trio Mediaeval (Words of an Angel, A Lion’s Sleep, and The Troparion of Kassiani), as well as his largest work to date, The Akáthistos Hymn, written for Cappella Romana and released on double CD.

This program of choral works from the Orthodox Church of Finland is led by one of the world’s foremost experts in the repertoire, the Rev. Ivan Moody, recently appointed chairman of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music in Joensuu, Finland.

While Orthodoxy was the earliest form of Christianity to reach Finland, its music was initially drawn from the rich Slavic tradition, subsequently adapted into the Finnish language.

In the 20th century, original works began to be composed in Finnish that drew upon the remarkable Finnish choral tradition, marrying the shining Northern clarity of sound with a sonic richness clearly related to the traditions of Russian choral singing.

Seattle-based singer Maria Männistö, 2007 Finlandia Foundation National Performer of the Year, will be a guest soprano and linguistic coach for the program.

The Orthodox Church in Finland serves the country’s important Orthodox minority, which has existed in the region since the 12th century, despite wars, shifting national borders, and other social upheavals.

The concert will feature a cappella choral works by composers such as Pekka Attinen, Boris Jakubov, Pekka Mirola, Leonid Bashmakov, Timo Ruottinen and the remarkable young 22-year-old composer Mikko Sidoroff. In addition, Ivan Moody’s new Finnish work Te Apostolit will be given its world première.

NEW Double CD | BYZANTIUM IN ROME: Medieval Byzantine Chant from Grottaferrata

NEW Double CD
BYZANTIUM IN ROME: Medieval Byzantine Chant from Grottaferrata

Click here to order.

Sound samples: Teleutaion Alleluia | Prosomoia for St. Benedict | Kontakion for St. Bartholomew | Communion for Pentecost

This release by Cappella Romana is a breathtaking collection of Medieval Byzantine Chant sung from manuscripts made at the Abbey of Grottaferrata in the suburban hills of Rome, which has operated continuously in the Byzantine rite since its founding before the Great Schism in 1004. During the Middle Ages, Grottaferrata was the site of an important scriptorium, the surviving manuscripts of which bear precious witness to musical repertories sung in Constantinople before the Crusader sack of 1204.

Click here to order.

Led by virtuoso cantor Ioannis Arvanitis, Cappella Romana recaptures on this recording the artistic vibrancy of medieval Italy’s Greek minority with ecstatic 13th-century chants. Disc one is devoted to the life and work of the monastery’s founders St. Neilos and St. Bartholomew, including kontakia in their honor, and an excerpt of a kanon for St. Benedict that was very likely composed for a Greek-rite all-night vigil at the Benedictine community at Montecassino in Sicily. Disc two features music for Pentecost, beginning with excerpts of its two kanons, the alleluiarion, and the communion verse for the feast. The central work on disc two is the Teleutaion (Final Antiphon) of the kneeling vespers in the medieval cathedral rite, featuring extended psalmody and ecstatic settings of the angelic refrain “Alleluia,” foreshadowing the beautified (“kalophonic”) chant of St. John Koukouzeles.

The booklet features a substantial essay on the music and its context by musicologist and Cappella Romana artistic director Dr. Alexander Lingas, and complete original texts in Greek with English translations by Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash). Beautiful photography of the Byzantine Abbey of Grottaferrata, taken on Cappella Romana’s tour there in May 2006, illustrates the booklet, as well as a sample of medieval Byzantine notation (as opposed to contemporary notation in the received tradition) drawn from the opening verse of the Teleutaion in the Grottaferrata manuscript Psaltikon Ashburnamensis 64. The CDs combined feature over 82 minutes of music.

Two CDs (CD1: The Founders of Grottaferrata; CD2: The Feast of Pentecost).

Click here to order.


Today’s Oregonian posted an excellent review of Cappella Romana’s program, A Time for Life. A PDF of that review can be viewed here:

Review of A Time for Life, The Oregonian, November 5, 2007

Full text also here:

‘Time’ cries out for planet’s salvation

Monday, November 05, 2007


The Oregonian Staff

A tenor walked slowly down the aisle of the church, between pews crammed with listeners. He sang softly to God, as if he were praying alone and we were invisible.

As he sang, something in his voice, a quality located somewhere between speculation and belief, said: We are all dying. Look at our brokenness.

Robert Kyr’s new environmental oratorio — I can’t think of another way to describe it — shimmered through St. Mary’s Cathedral on Friday, a twig trembling on the lip of the falls. Kyr’s music wept for the Earth. It shuddered and then grew stronger, blooming into beauty before evaporating in silence.

In our vast and seemingly hopeless effort to save the planet, “A Time for Life” is a tiny note in a bottle, reminding us that we are here but momentarily — “trembling with joy,” as soprano LeaAnne DenBeste sang on a brief, stabbing, ecstatic G. Or, as Robert Bly put it, “Like a note of music, you are about to become nothing.”

And yet, “A Time for Life” also suggests that we, the living, are survivors. We have crawled out of a sea of amino acids and although we have stained our altar stone of land, we can fix it. Kyr, as we’ve heard in his anti-war symphonies, is an optimist, a gentle witness of conscience, and this chanting piece is as much about spiritual recovery as it is about loss. “A Time for Life” begs us to remember and restore the Earth’s grandeur.

How Portland. How Northwest. That’s not a putdown, but an acknowledgement that, faced with our “paper or plastic” ethics, our choked roads and a Superfund, polluted Willamette River, in our hearts we believe that our air will one day be fresh again, our fields green, our rivers clean, our streets filled with bicycles, and Mount Hood will forever watch over our idealic valley.

We hear from politicians about global warming all the time. We read about going “green” until we’re blue in the face. Now, composers such as Kyr are putting the message into music.

“A Time for Life” contains no roaring river of sound in the style of Philip Glass or John Adams. With his Quaker background, Kyr combines tender, sometimes rapturous, lyricism with a whiff of Byzantine incense. Sophisticated canons and double choruses synthesize both modern and ancient modes, and Western and Asian musical traditions. And yet, his best music sounds artless.

During an hour of music, the eight excellent voices of Cappella Romana (sopranos DenBeste and Stephanie Kramer, altos Jo Routh and Tuesday Rupp, tenors John Michael Boyer and Leslie W. Green, baritone Mark Powell and bass David Stutz) lapped the walls with words from Sioux and Eskimo prayers, biblical psalms and Greek Orthodox texts. Three Renaissance stringed instruments (played by the superb Margriet Tindemans, Shira Kammen and David Morris) summoned the ancients while grounding the singers’ voices in rolling chords. A useful musical reference here may be the mystical music of Arvo Part and Henryk Gorecki.

Slants of melody set the mind adrift. If a million solar systems are born every hour, how many may have burst into being during the five-lined Navajo chant “Restore my feet for me?” as voices overlapped in canon?

A moment of beauty arrived with an Ojibwa prayer: “In all creation, only the human family has strayed from the Sacred Way.” We had just heard Green and Powell howl at the shepherds who neglected their flocks — a rousing duet, expertly sung — when the mood shifted to supplication, as all eight voices pleaded for compassion “so we may heal the Earth.” The music broadened like a river delta with DenBeste’s bell-like voice again soaring on high.

By the end of the piece, with an inventory of crimes stacked against us, Kyr let us off gently. Flooding the church in a confluence of voices and instruments, the music swelled in homophonic splendor as the singers turned to the audience, singing, “Beauty before me, beauty behind me.”

It’s not a mystery, Kyr was saying as the singers walked slowly back up the aisles. The music tells us how to behave.

David Stabler: 503-221-8217; [email protected];

Oregonian Classical Blog

David Stabler blogged on his experience of the dress rehearsal for A Time for Life:

Music Criticism for Dummies

Posted by David Stabler November 01, 2007 11:09AM

Categories: News

Olivia Bucks

One of the rules in “Music Criticism for Dummies,” just below “10 Tricks to Stay Awake at Concerts” and “100 Cliches to Sneak Past Your Editor” is “How to Attend Rehearsals.”

Rule No. 1: Leave your Big Gulp at home.
Rule No. 2: Don’t laugh and scribble things in your notebook.
Rule No. 3: Don’t raise your hand to point out that the flute keeps coming in late at letter N.

This is touchy ground. When a critic shows up at a rehearsal, the musicians think we’re tallying up their wrong notes, missed entrances and personality failures, when all we want to know is, are we in 4/4?

One of the hardest things to write about is a brand-new piece, so I often ask for a score and permission to sit in on a rehearsal. I’ve never had a composer bar the door, but I am forbidden from attending first rehearsals at the Oregon Symphony. I understand that having a critic in the house can be unsettling. They’re unsettled, I’m unsettled, so everybody smiles a lot.

Anyway, I went to a rehearsal last night of Cappella Romana, the Portland choir that is premiering Robert Kyr’s new piece on the environment, “A Time For Life.”

Whoa. I’ve been listening to Kyr’s music for many years, and some of it has stirred me and some of it hasn’t. But even through the stops and starts last night, something powerful, perhaps extraordinary, came through. Eight singers, accompanied by the group, Medieval Strings, sing and drone and chant music from Eskimo, Ojibway, Pawnee, Navaho, biblical and Eastern Orthodox texts and prayers

Much beauty, much lyricism. The concert is at 8 p.m. Friday, St. Mary’s Cathedral.

A TIME FOR LIFE Now in Rehearsal

A TIME for LIFE: Music for the Environment

Cappella Romana is in residence this week working on Robert Kyr’s innovative new work on the theme of living in harmony with nature, “A TIME FOR LIFE.” (Click here for a sound sample of music by Robert Kyr).

Artistic Director Alexander Lingas is shown above, conducting, with composer Robert Kyr at the keyboard, rehearsing at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Portland on Saturday, October 27, 2007.

Click here to order tickets.

“A TIME FOR LIFE” features impressive full-voiced acclamations by all eight singers, contrasted with intimate solos, insistent duets and pensive trios sung by members of Cappella Romana and accompanied by two vielles and viola da gamba, played by Medieval Strings (Margriet Tindemans, director).

Shown to the right is Robert Kyr working with Cappella Romana singer Stephanie Kramer.

Kyr’s work is inspired by the Greek Orthodox Service for the Environment from Mt. Athos and invocations of Native American peoples.

Friday, November 2, 2007, 8pm St. Mary’s Cathedral, NW 18th & Couch
Saturday, November 3, 2007, 8pm Town Hall Seattle, 8th & Seneca

Click here to order tickets.

Jo Routh and David Stutz preparing to sing with Robert Kyr at the keyboard.

Pre-concert talks will take place at 7pm by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, author of Beyond the Shattered Image: Insights into an Orthodox Ecological Worldview. Kyr hosts a panel of Northwest environmental leaders,including Peter Drury of the Sightline Institute, in post-concert discussions.

This program is made possible in part through support from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Oregon Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Collins Foundation, the Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, the Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, and Town Hall Seattle. The Mark Spencer Hotel is Cappella Romana’s official hotel sponsor.

About Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, and his talks on November 2 and 3

Before the concerts of A TIME FOR LIFE, in a special introductory presentation that will assume the form of an ecological meditation, Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis will explore a sacred vision of the earth.

Through images and word, he will reflect on the relationship of spirituality to ecology, emphasizing the role of icons, liturgy and self-sacrifice through asceticism.

By providing a spiritual perspective on the sacredness and beauty of the natural environment, he proposes that heaven and earth interpenetrate, restoring communion between God and the natural world.

In icons and in liturgy, God becomes incarnate, while matter becomes a vehicle of the Spirit.

More about Dr. Chryssavgis:

The Dr. Rev. John Chryssavgis
Theological Advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch
on Environmental Issues

The Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis was born in Australia (1958), where he matriculated from the Scots College (1975). He received his degree in Theology from the University of Athens (1980) and a diploma in Byzantine Music from the Greek Conservatory of Music (1979), and was awarded a research scholarship to St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary (1982). He completed his doctoral studies in Patristics at the University of Oxford (1983). After several months in silent retreat on Mt Athos, he served as Personal Assistant to the Greek Orthodox Primate in Australia (1984-94) and was co-founder of St Andrew’s Theological College in Sydney (1985), where he was Sub-Dean and taught Patristics and Church History (1986-95). He was also Lecturer in the Divinity School (1986-90) and the School of Studies in Religion (1990-95) at the University of Sydney. In 1995, he moved to Boston, where he was appointed Professor of Theology at Holy Cross School of Theology and directed the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College until 2002. He established the Environment Office at the same School in 2001. He has also taught as professor of Patristics at Balamand University in Lebanon.

He currently serves as theological advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch on environmental issues.

The author of several books and numerous articles on the Church Fathers and Orthodox Spirituality, Fr. John’s most recent publications include Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction (Holy Cross Press, 2000), In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (World Wisdom Books, 2002), Letters from the Desert: A Selection from Barsanuphius and John (St. Vladimir’s Press, 2003), and Light Through Darkness: the Orthodox tradition (Orbis Books, 2004).

Married to Sophie, Fr. John has two boys—Alexander (19 yrs, a sophomore at the Catholic University of America) and Julian (17 yrs, a high school senior).

Sneak preview of “A TIME FOR LIFE”

Here are some of the texts from Robert Kyr’s A TIME FOR LIFE:


“O Creator:
Look at our brokenness.

In all creation,
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

O Creator:
Teach us love, compassion, and honor,
So we may heal the earth.
So we may heal each other.”

–Ojibway Prayer, adapted by Robert Kyr


“O Creator:
Guide us to preserve your creation.
help us to protect the fullness of nature
In which we live and move and have our being.
Give us the breath of winds.
Give us the flow of waters.
Give us light.”

–Adapted by Robert Kyr from the Orthodox “Service for the Environment”


“A time for war
And a time for peace;
A time to mourn
And a time to dance;
A time for silence
And a time for music–
A time for life
And only life.”

–Adapted by Robert Kyr from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8