Gapplegate Classical-Modern Reviews LIVE IN GREECE

Grego Applegate Edwards Classical-Modern Music Review Blog features new Cappella Romana release LIVE IN GREECE, and ends with quite the statement:

“This is music of endless fascination, performed with impeccable attention to detail. Cappella Romana live up to their reputation as the foremost representatives of the Byzantine choral tradition.”

Read the full review on classicalmodernmusic.blogspot.ca

Order today via:

Listen to LIVE IN GREECE on Spotify!

Still haven’t heard the new Cappella Romana LIVE IN GREECE recording? Well now you can stream it in its entirety via Spotify! Listen now:

Order today via:

Quick LIVE IN GREECE Review from Eugene Weekly

LIVE IN GREECE gets a quick feature/review on EugeneWeekly.com:

“One splendid new disc arrived just too late to make my last column of CD reviews of new releases by Oregon musicians. The Portland-based choir Cappella Romana is not only one of the finest vocal ensembles in the West, it’s also renowned for being the world’s primary exponent of music from the Byzantine era. The music of the ancient Eastern Roman empire and Greek and Russian Orthodox churches has until recently been relatively neglected in the West but has recently been experiencing a revival, driven by growing interest in world music and chant, and by scholarship (including work by Cappella’s England-based director, Portland native Alexander Lingas) that’s brought many powerful songs back to circulation after lying in obscurity for centuries.

During its 20th anniversary this year, the group journeyed to its music’s homeland and recorded its resonant new album — by far its most diverse yet — in concerts on the island of Paros. The collection includes works by Cretan court musicians Angelos Gregoriou and Manuel Gazes and other 15th and 16th century composers as well as modern choral settings of Byzantine chant, and is well worth the money saved by attending the aforementioned free concerts.” — Brett Campbell, Eugene Weekly

See the article on EugeneWeekly.com!

Preview Track 7: Apolytikion of the Holy Cross via SoundCloud

Order today via:

LIVE IN GREECE Featured by Allegro Classical

LIVE IN GREECE is a “Featured Release” on the Allegro Classical website! Take a look:

Preview Track 7: Apolytikion of the Holy Cross via SoundCloud

Order today via:

Looking back at Cappella Romana in Greece

Now that LIVE IN GREECE is officially released, we’re taking the rest of the time this week to look back at our time on the tour when we made the recording.

Cappella Romana on National Greek Television:

Tour Video:

Cappella Romana LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California

Ancient Byzantine chants begin this 1,000-year journey from Constantinople to California, followed by musical encounters with Crusaders and Venetians, including Greek and Latin polyphony from Renaissance Crete. East meets West again at St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Frank Desby founded a tradition of Greek-American choral music with his Californian colleagues. The tour comes full circle with the mystical ecstasy of Radiant Cloud, a sonic icon of the Transfiguration by Athenian composer Michael Adamis.

Preview Track 7: Apolytikion of the Holy Cross via SoundCloud

Order today via:

Release Day!!! Cappella Romana LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California available in stores now!

Cappella Romana LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California

Recorded live on Paros, Greece
CR409

Alexander Lingas, Director

Ancient Byzantine chants begin this 1,000-year journey from Constantinople to California, followed by musical encounters with Crusaders and Venetians, including Greek and Latin polyphony from Renaissance Crete. East meets West again at St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Frank Desby founded a tradition of Greek-American choral music with his Californian colleagues. The tour comes full circle with the mystical ecstasy of Radiant Cloud, a sonic icon of the Transfiguration by Athenian composer Michael Adamis.

Read our Liner Notes Preview on this release!

Preview Track 7: Apolytikion of the Holy Cross via SoundCloud

Order today via:

LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California – Part Five

As we approach the release of LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California, we’ll be sharing some excerpts from the liner notes to give you a bit of background into the programming of this recording.

Younger Byzantine Contemporaries

Two younger contemporaries of Frank Desby who were strongly influenced by his early work are Theodore Bogdanos (b. 1932) and Tikey Zes (b. 1927), both of whom were professors at San Jose State University. By academic training a specialist in medieval literature, Bogdanos has served the Orthodox Church as a cantor and choirmaster while doing much to further the dissemination of inculturated forms of Byzantine chanting in Greek American churches through his transcriptions, publications and teaching. His monophonic Saturday Communion Verse recomposes Sakellarides’ melody for this chant, simultaneously drawing both on Byzantine and Gregorian precedents. In his polyphonic setting of the Kontakion of the Dead ‘With the Saints’ Bogdanos demonstrates his attraction for Renaissance prototypes, interpreted here in a manner reminiscent of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European composers influenced by the Caecilian Movement’s appropriation of Palestrina. Echoes of Renaissance polyphony are also common in the liturgical music of Zes, a violinist and composer of Neo-classical concert music who as director of the Berkeley Chamber Singers recorded late medieval masses by Johannes Ockeghem. In the two works for Pentecost recorded here, Zes clothes melodies composed by Sakellarides for the Introit and Communion Verse of this feast in refined forms of modal harmony and imitative polyphony.

Like Zes, Peter Michaelides (b. 1930) received his doctorate in composition from the University of Southern California. In the 1960s he composed a complete Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom together with a small body of elegant settings of Byzantine chants in Greek and English, all of which remained virtually unknown until their revival and recording by Cappella Romana. Presented here for the first time is his setting of the original chant Sakellarides composed for the ancient vesperal hymn Phos hilaron (‘O Joyful Light’), a melody so successful that it has all but completely displaced its traditional forbear. Now retired from his position as Professor of Composition at the University of Northern Iowa, Michaelides resides in New Mexico and has returned to choral composition, including a commission from the prominent American ensemble Chanticleer.

The harmonic enrichment of Greek American liturgical music in California has been pursued most notably since the 1980s by Steven G. Cardiasmenos (b. 1958). A prolific composer of sacred and secular works who only in recent years has devoted himself full time to music after a successful career as a software engineer, he has served the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross in Belmont since 1985 as its choir director. The Sunday Communion Verse is taken from his complete setting of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, in which he further extends the sonic horizons of the Greek American liturgical music in a variety of ways. In this setting of Psalm 148:1, Cardiasmenos takes a popular chant by Sakellarides and replaces the Athenian’s rudimentary tonal harmonies with the sophisticated chord progressions of Jazz.

— Alexander Lingas

Pre-order on Amazon.com

Limited Time LIVE IN GREECE Streaming Track – First Ode of the Canon

From now through Tuesday, August 14th when LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California is released, you can stream Track 15: First Ode of the Canon by Michael Adamis in its entirety via SoundCloud! Take a listen today!

Pre-Order LIVE IN GREECE on Amazon.com!

Unique on this recording as the only composition for women’s voices alone, this selection is an arrangement of a beloved chant from the Great Supplicatory Service of the Mother of God. Set in three parts by Athenian composer Michael Adamis (b. 1929), this fairly straightforward harmonization of the first ode of the canon is drawn from the office sung during the fast of the first two weeks of August, just prior to the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on 15 August.

Two other selections by Adamis are featured on this disc, including the larger-scale work “Radiant Cloud,” a concert piece written specially for Cappella Romana, based on two hymns for the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord on 6 August. In his transformation of the traditional melodies, Adamis sonically evokes through his superimposition of highly ornamented melodic lines both the divine radiance on Tabor—itself an important concept for the contemplative tradition of hesychasm (‘quietude’)—and the world of Greek cantorial practice.

ABOUT MICHAEL ADAMIS: Having served in his youth as one of the last directors of the Royal Chapel choir, Michael Adamis (b. 1929) has bridged the worlds of Byzantine and Western music throughout his distinguished career. After studying in university both theology and music, he subsequently taught Byzantine music at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, founded the first electronic music studio in Athens, published scholarly studies of Byzantine chant (including the first discussion of polyphony by Gazes), and for ten years (1975–85) served as president of the Greek Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music. In his mature works Adamis eschews Western functional harmony for a free approach to polyphony in which individual melodic lines owe much to the modes and ornamentation of Byzantine chant and Greek folk music.

LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California – Part Four

As we approach the release of LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California, we’ll be sharing some excerpts from the liner notes to give you a bit of background into the programming of this recording.

III – Liturgical Choral Music in the Greek Orthodox Churches of the western United States

Although originating from the same early twentieth-century Athenian sources as sacred polyphony in Greece, liturgical choral music in the Greek Orthodox churches of the western United States of America soon assumed, for a variety of historical and cultural reasons, a distinct course. From the outset, choral settings in Italian or Russian styles created for the Greek Royal Chapel were overshadowed in America by the music of John Sakellarides (1853?–1938), an Athenian cantor who sought to purge Byzantine chant from alleged Oriental contamination by proffering a reformed repertory of his own devising that he sweetened with simple harmonisations. After the Second World War a school of young composers in California began to transform the legacy of Sakellarides through a partial return to earlier layers of the chant repertory and the introduction of more sophisticated approaches to the setting of Byzantine melodies for mixed chorus.

Frank Desby (1922–92) provided much of the impetus for the rise of this ‘West Coast School’ of Greek Orthodox choral music. For decades he served as director of music at St Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, also working tirelessly throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as conductor, composer and educator. Having gained postgraduate degrees at the University of Southern California for theses on medieval and post-Byzantine chant, Desby combined ideas gained from modern chant scholarship with his knowledge of the history of Western and Russian choral music to reshape Greek American liturgical singing according to contemporary academic standards. This led Desby during the 1950s to create harmonisations inspired by Renaissance prototypes and to adapt Byzantine chant to the modern style of performing Gregorian chant invented at the end of the nineteenth century by the monks of the French abbey of Solesmes. The ways that these approaches differed from the received traditions of Byzantine chanting may be heard by contrasting the performances on this disc of the traditional melody for the Apolytikion of the Holy Cross (sung from an 1882 publication by Stephanos Lampadarios, a cantor at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople) with Desby’s staff-notation transcription and choral setting of the same hymn. Published in 1979, his setting of the Forty-fold ‘Kyrie eleison’ for the Litany of the Holy Cross is harmonised in a more modern style with a brief episode of polytonality.

— Alexander Lingas

Pre-order on Amazon.com

LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California – Part Three

As we approach the release of LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California, we’ll be sharing some excerpts from the liner notes to give you a bit of background into the programming of this recording.

II – Modern Choral Settings of Byzantine Chant

Under Venetian and later British rule the Ionian Islands fostered the performance and composition of opera and other forms of Western Art Music by such figures as the Corfiote Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros (1795–1872).

Best known today as the author of the music for the Greek National Anthem, Mantzaros also composed liturgical music, of which only his setting of the Hymn of Kassiane from the Orthros of Holy Wednesday is still regularly performed. At all events, his sacred works mark the beginnings of a modern tradition of Greek Orthodox polyphonic choral music that through succeeding years has been variously cultivated, condemned, promoted and marginalised by clergy and laity. The ascent of liturgical polyphony in mainland Greece began in the late nineteenth century with the founding of a male choir for the chapel of King George I and his Russian-born Queen Olga by Alexandros Kantakouzenos (1824–92), reached its apogee in the first decades of the twentieth century and then gradually began to decline after World War II with the revival of Byzantine chanting.

Having served in his youth as one of the last directors of the Royal Chapel choir, Michael Adamis (b. 1929) has bridged the worlds of Byzantine and Western music throughout his distinguished career. After studying in university both theology and music, he subsequently taught Byzantine music at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, founded the first electronic music studio in Athens, published scholarly studies of Byzantine chant (including the first discussion of polyphony by Gazes), and for ten years (1975–85) served as president of the Greek Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music. In his mature works Adamis eschews Western functional harmony for a free approach to polyphony in which individual melodic lines owe much to the modes and ornamentation of Byzantine chant and Greek folk music.

Three variations of his unique stylistic synthesis between the musical traditions of the Greek East and Latin West may be heard in the settings of liturgical texts from the month of August included on this disc. Composed in 1999, the first two are relatively straightforward harmonisations of beloved chants from the Great Supplicatory Service of the Mother of God, an office that is sung during the two-week fast that precedes the celebration of her Dormition on 15 August. Radiant Cloud, on the other hand, is conceived on a much grander scale. Adamis dedicated this work to the memory of choral conductor Yannis Mantakas, who in the 1970s directed the choir of the University of Thessalonica in premieres of landmark choral works by Adamis including Photonymon and Byzantine Passion. Premiered by Cappella Romana at the MusicFest Vancouver (Canada) in August 2003, Radiant Cloud is based on two hymns for the feast of Christ’s Transfiguration (6 August). In his transformation of the traditional melodies, the composer sonically evokes through his superimposition of highly ornamented melodic lines both the divine radiance on Tabor—itself an important concept for the contemplative tradition of hesychasm (‘quietude’)—and the world of Greek cantorial practice.

— Alexander Lingas

Pre-order on Amazon.com