In tandem with unprecedented support for Cappella Romana from individual donors this spring, the National Endowment for the Humanities has announced a $67,951 grant to support Cappella Romana’s essential operations during the COVID pandemic.
The award is one of 317 grants made out of over 2,300 applications, and only one of six made in the discipline of music.
“We are so honored to be selected for funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities,” says Mark Powell, executive director. “This award—our first from the NEH—shines a light on Cappella Romana’s essential role as a unique contributor to the humanities and to our cultural life.”
The grant will first support the work of Cappella Romana’s music director and founder, Dr. Alexander Lingas. He will lead a team of scholars to produce a volume of medieval Byzantine chants from the Greek monastery of Grottaferrata near Rome, a community founded by St. Neilos of Calabria in 1004. It will contain the first musical edition of a Greek office honoring St. Benedict of Nursia that St. Neilos composed for celebration at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino.
Dr. Lingas will also conduct research to create “Christmas 1400: A Byzantine Emperor in King Henry’s Court,” a new concert program of Byzantine and Latin music, slated to be performed in 2021.
“I am very grateful to the NEH,” said Lingas, “for enabling Cappella Romana during this time of crisis to extend its work in significant ways. Thanks to its support we can begin the vital task of disseminating widely our vast treasury of original musical scholarship, material previously available only through our concerts and sound recordings.”
The grant will also support associate music director John Michael Boyer to complete and publish a textbook on singing from traditional Byzantine chant notation. This textbook in English is designed, lesson by lesson, to guide students toward full command and understanding of the practical skills and theoretical knowledge of the Byzantine melodic tradition.