National Endowment for the Arts Awards Major Grant to Cappella Romana for Black Voices in Orthodox Music

Mark Powell introduces Black Voices Project and Concert
Mark Powell introduces Black Voices Project and Concert

Cappella Romana is thrilled to announce a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for its Black Voices in Orthodox Music series, which in 2025 will feature the Canon for Racial Reconciliation by Nicholas Reeves and Isaac Cates.

This grant is under the NEA’s Grants for Arts Projects, tied with My Voice Music (a youth music organization) as the largest music grant awarded in Oregon this cycle.

“We are deeply honored to receive this grant from the NEA,” said Executive Director Mark Powell. “Following the enormous impact of our 2024 Black Voices in Orthodox Music project How Sweet the Sound, this critical funding will allow us to produce an even more ambitious program, The Canon for Racial Reconciliation.”

About The Canon for Racial Reconciliation

African-American Carla Thomas chose to write her extensive poem The Canon for Racial Reconicilation in an ancient Byzantine form. Two leading composers, Isaac Cates (Gospel music) and Nicholas Reeves (Orthodox music) then co-composed her poem to an unforgettable score for mixed choir, soloists, discrete instruments, and sound and speech samples. Their composition weaves a tapestry of healing and hope. The work takes audiences on a transformative journey from brokenness to reconciliation, sorrow to joy, bridging the sacred traditions of the Black Church and Orthodox Christianity.

The performances in Seattle (February 28, 2025) and Portland (March 1, 2025) will be the world premiere of the complete work.

About the NEA Grants for Arts Projects

For its second major grant announcement of fiscal year 2024, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is pleased to announce more than $110 million in recommended grants in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions. These grants fall under three NEA funding categories: Grants for Arts Projects, Our Town, and State and Regional Partnerships. 

“These projects exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities—all through the arts,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “So many aspects of our communities such as cultural vitality, health and well-being, infrastructure, and the economy are advanced and improved through investments in art and design, and this funding at the local, state, and regional levels demonstrates the National Endowment for the Arts’ commitment to ensuring people across the country benefit.”

Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) provides expansive funding opportunities to strengthen the nation’s arts and cultural ecosystem. It is the National Endowment for the Arts’ largest grants program for organizations, with matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. Designated local arts agencies eligible to subgrant may request from $30,000 to $150,000 for subgranting programs. In July 2023, the NEA received 2,129 eligible applications requesting more than $111 million in FY24 support. Following a competitive application review process, 1,135 projects are approved for funding in this round, including to first-time applicants, totaling more than $37 million in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.