This Season, we are launching a new series spotlighting the voices of Cappella Romana to help you get to know the people behind the music. The series will allow our singers to share their history and stories of working with our ensemble as well as what they are working on outside of Cappella Romana. Our first features vocalist AND Cappella Romana office manager, David Krueger!
Meet David Krueger
I have been working in the office at Cappella Romana for almost two years now, and absolutely love being part of the work behind the scenes.
There is so much unseen work that goes into launching and running a concert series as ambitious as this one. It as been a real treat to get to know our patrons and long time supporters, and to meet people who are discovering our music for the first time.
Outside of Cappella Romana I just finished work on a recording and performance of a work called “The Common Opus” with Portland’s “Big Mouth Society”. The piece was composed and conducted by the brilliant Emily Lau (A frequent member of Cappella’s Alto section). It was written out of a collection of workshops, that brought people together to talk about their experiences during the covid pandemic and quarantines. It was a treat to work with Emily and the amazing group of musicians she brought together, including the incredible counter-tenor Reginald Mobley. I am grateful that Portland has such a diverse arts community, and can sustain so many different types of ensembles.
What Makes Cappella Romana Special?
Cappella Romana occupies a really unique space in the choral world. We get to work with world class artists and musicologists, but get to bring forward music that is rarely performed, or sometimes music that hasn’t been heard for many hundred years. The Orthodox tradition has this deep well of music going back 1500 years, that reaches throughout southern and eastern Europe and the Mediterranean and northern Africa. Much of this music has been overlooked by western musical scholars. But there are huge folios of chant that have been sitting in monastery libraries for centuries, in a notation system that very few people could read. It is exciting to work with people who can read this notation and translate it into modern byzantine and western notation.
Do You Have A Favorite Cappella Romana Recording You’ve Been A Part Of?
I love being a part of an ensemble with the musical ability to travel time and space. Our recording Voices of Byzantium is music from the libraries of St. Catherine’s monastery at the base of Mt Sinai. During the period of Iconoclasm in the 8th century, religious icons were being destroyed, and a great number of those that have survived from that time period were hidden in the desert at St. Catherine’s. We had the opportunity to sing the music from this collection, at the Getty Museum, along side the medieval icons from that collection.
Alexander Lingas is great at finding these musical meeting points between east and west, like our Byzantium in Rome recording. It is music from the libraries at Grottaferrata, a thousand year old Orthodox monastery just outside of Rome.
Our newest recording A Byzantine Emperor in King Henry’s Court recounts a historic encounter in London during Christmas of the Year 1400 when Byzantine Emperor Manuel II was traveling to raise money to protect Constantinople. To hear this early English polyphony and plainchant, next to the highly ornamented byzantine chant must have been revelatory for those court musicians present.
What Are You Most Excited For This Season?
I think the thing I am most excited for this season is our opening concert Odes of Repentance. I love the music of Arvo Pärt, he truly is one of the worlds greatest living composers. I was fortunate to hear his Kanon Pokajanen performed in Tallin shortly after it was released, and it instantly became one of my favorite pieces of music ever. There is something about his writing that just rings like a gong deep in the soul. It is always a treat to get to live inside that sonic world for a little while. I am also excited that we are pairing his music with a large work by Galina Grigorjeva, a Ukrainian born woman living in Estonia. It is a very exciting piece, and she is an amazing composer and something I cant wait to share with our audiences.
It is a fantastic season of music coming up. I know it sounds like a cliche to say music is good for the soul, but I dont know a better way to say it. Just taking a moment to stop, unplug, take a breath, and just get carried away on a wave of sound. There is something profound and magical about turning off your internal monologue and experiencing floating a river of feelings in a room full of people. It’s healing, its restorative, and you don’t have to speak Greek or have some advanced degree in ethnomusicology to enjoy it.