What We Do

Cappella-Romana_Sacred Choral Music

Cappella Romana at the Festival of Sacred Music of Patmos, Greece, 2011.


Cappella Romana presents sacred choral music that engages audiences with an experience of music from medieval times as well as by contemporary composers.

A presentation by Cappella Romana is an experience unlike any other classical choral music concert. Each of its events reveal something transcendent. In the space of our performances and our recordings, we bring to the public the music of the common Christian inheritance.

A Cappella Romana performance takes you on a journey of discovery. Some programs feature ancient music never before heard by modern audiences; on other occasions new or rediscovered works are brought to audiences by leading contemporary composers. Our programs create a dynamic experience of immersion in sound and space, tradition and history, innovation and light.

Sacred Choral Music – A Matter of Geography

What is the music of the Roman inheritance? In its simplest form, we consider the meeting of East and West and the sacred choral music and chant that was written for it. Our meeting point of musical exploration is within the medieval musical history of (“Old”) Rome and Western Europe, alongside the Byzantine Empire of the Romans in the East centered at Constantinople (“New Rome”) and its Slavic commonwealth.

This music includes Latin Catholic and related music from the West, including Gregorian Chant, the Greek Orthodox (and Byzantine) tradition in the East. The core traditions of this sacred choral music are vocal, with instrumental music based upon it aiming to imitate the human voice. The ancients believed the human voice to be the highest instrument to praise the Divine.

Cappella Romana’s Founder and Artistic Director, Dr. Alexander Lingas, compels listeners to embrace the fascinating transformations of music on the frontiers of East and West. When the Greek East meets the Latin West, when the Slavs meet the European Baroque style, or when a modern composer encounters ancient sources: the resulting encounters create something new and exciting. Animated debate on the nature of cultures, musical influence, musical distinction, identity politics through music, or how music indicates tribe or language, religion or other identity are all played out through sound and voice. Cappella Romana explores the function of music in society and politics in the relations between imperial and ecclesiastical authority, of government and the governed, in theology, and in sociology, with each program drawing out a sense of the transcendent, of deep emotion and spiritual effect

Audiences sense the transcendent in Cappella Romana’s programs, whether by a male-voice choir performing ancient Byzantine chant, or a mixed choir singing Russian Orthodox choral works or more conventional music such as Handel’s Messiah, which it performs annually in collaboration with Portland Baroque Orchestra. With Cappella Romana you can explore esoteric and guttural three-voice chanting from the inner reaches of Georgia, to new works by leading composers, to medieval Byzantine chant from the Sinai Peninsula, to modern works by the late John Tavener.

Early and New Music

In addition to exploring the medieval history of Greek Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and the Russian traditions, Cappella Romana encourages the meeting of old and new by performing new works by leading contemporary composers who are inspired by ancient traditions.

In the field of contemporary music, Cappella Romana has taken a leading role in bringing to West Coast audiences the vocal works of such European contemporary composers as Michael Adamis, Ivan Moody, Arvo Pärt, and John Tavener, as well as promoting the work of North Americans such as Fr. Sergei Glagolev, Christos Hatzis, Peter Michaelides, and Tikey Zes.

The ensemble presents annual concert series in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Critics have consistently praised these for their unusual and innovative programming, including numerous world and American premieres. The group has also frequently collaborated with such artists as conductor Paul Hillier, chant specialist Ioannis Arvanitis, and contemporary composer Ivan Moody.

Cappella Romana’s exploration of the Roman musical inheritance is unique in the world of music. No other ensemble in the world performs this combination of works, with the ability to shift gears so smoothly from one vocal style (Byzantine chant) to another (choral music in the European tradition, such as Gregorian Chant Music). Journeys to new discoveries in a vast musical landscape await you at Cappella Romana, whose mission to explore the Roman musical inheritance will give you new understanding of the world and our place in it.

Cappella Romana is Supported By