Review from the Utrecht Early Music Festival

Cappella Romana Oudemuziek Early Music Festival — Utrecht, NetherlandsA wonderful new review of our concert at the Utrecht Early Music Festival by Marianne Driessen has been translated into English by our friend Maria Armstrong.

“When I first started this blog, I really had made the resolution to not write about music. I do not know much about it, and my ear is not very sharp. But yesterday, I attended the Oude Muziek festival in Utrecht and heard Cappella Romana in the St. Augustinus church. This American ensemble sang Byzantine music. Long, sustained and resonating tones, such as you never hear in Western music. I could hear and feel the music vibrate under my hands and feet in the pew. Music so dense that I thought I could breathe in the sound.

Part of the performance was sung with the singers’ back turned toward the audience. I have heard about these situations in stories from my parents. During church services, priests, altar servants and choir were serving facing the altar. A situation that many find old fashioned these days, because there is no contact with the people present in the church this way. I seemed a puzzling practice to me too, standing with your back to the audience to sing or speak. How is that a way of being together? And how do you know what the effect is of what you are doing?

Yesterday, in the full glory of the dedication of the singers and the beauty of the music, I suddenly understood. The primary aim of this music is not any audience. Something is being celebrated that is bigger than us, the listeners. And this was being shaped in a reserved way with symbolic, inward movement: the backs to the audience, the faces towards the most important point of focus in the space. I did not experience a disconnect because of this, but just the opposite, an invitation to enter and join the glorious feast in this same inward way.” —Marianne Driessen

Read the review in its original language at