Music from Mt. Sinai: Recorded!

Cappella Romana’s program “Mt. Sinai: Frontier of Byzantium” was recorded last week, from August 20 through August 25, in the extraordinary acoustics of Holy Rosary Church in West Seattle. Alexander Lingas (center) led a nine-member ensemble in chants from the monastery of St. Catherine at Mt. Sinai in Egypt, featuring music for St. Catherine followed by the medieval liturgical drama, “The Service of the Furnace.” The program was performed in late 2006 at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, then again in January 2007 in Cappella Romana’s own series.

Among the singers were Stelios Kontakiotis, protopsaltis of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC; John Michael Boyer, protopsaltis of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco; and Constantine Kokenes, lampadarios of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Atlanta, GA. Mark Powell, David Stutz, David Krueger, and Thomas Thompson rounded out the ensemble, directed by Dr. Alexander Lingas, who also sang as a melodist.

Multiple Grammy-award winner Steve Barnett was producer, along with Bill Levey, our regular and excellent sound engineer. The ensemble faced serious challenges during the week, with external noise outside the church increasing each night (the sessions were scheduled from 8pm to 12 midnight). The final night a group of bikers on Harley-Davidsons were trolling the neighborhood. Fortunately they left after about 9:30pm, but the first hour and a half was spent on one page of music! Friday’s final session ended at 12:15am!

The over 70-minute disc is slated for release in 2008 or 2009. First to come out this autumn will be the disc “Byzantium in Rome: Medeival Byzantine Chant from Grottaferrata”, then later the double-disc “Byzantine Divine Liturgy in English.”

Needless to say, we were relieved to complete the music in time! Now we will record Christmas music by Richard Toensing just after Labor Day.