Oregon Days of Culture feature Cappella Romana Hagia Sophia Performance
Oregon Days of Culture and the Portland Tribune & Community Newspapers have a wonderful feature on the upcoming Stanford Residency concerts and the “Icons of Sound” project highlighting “The Sounds of Hagia Sophia.”
Heavenly Experience: Vocal chamber ensemble Cappella Romana performs from Portland to Stanford to Greece
“It is said that when the Slavic people first came to Constantinople—present day Istanbul — they were in search of the one true religion.When they experienced the worship in Hagia Sophia — a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica — they knew not whether they were in heaven or on Earth.
The Portland vocal ensemble Cappella Romana aims to give a glimpse of this heaven on Earth with its music. Its programs of Byzantine and related repertoire blend the boundaries of history, religion and culture and poke holes into the very floor of heaven.
Over the last several years, Cappella Romana has participated in Icons of Sound, a collaborative project between Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics and the Department of Art & Art History. This research focuses on the interior of Hagia Sophia — built by emperor Justinian from 532 to 537 AD — and employs visual, textual, and musicological research, video, architectural and acoustic models and recording of Byzantine chants, all in an effort to recreate the sound, look and feel of the once great church turned museum.
“All these things work together to create this heavenly experience,” said Mark Powell, executive director and performer with Cappella Romana. “It’s a thrill to give modern people a glimpse of it through music.”
Columns of purple and green marble cover the floor and walls at Hagia Sophia. A crowned dome glittering in gold mosaics rises 180 feet to the sky. Echoes fill the space for more than 10 seconds and when human chanting is performed, it is said to sound like water splashing against the marbled walls.
Cappella Romana was chosen for the Icons of Sound project because it is the only vocal ensemble in the world that performs complete programs of medieval Byzantine music.
“In terms of music selection, it might sound amazing, but we are really the only group that does this,” Powell said. “Cappella Romana performs a unique combination of music from the Roman inhabited world— from Old Rome and Western Europe and especially music from New Rome (Constantinople) and its Slavic commonwealth.”
Cappella Romana will collaborate again with the Icons of Sound project later this year. The ensemble has also been invited again to Stanford University, in the prestigious concert series Stanford Live. Cappella Romana will perform on Feb. 1 in the inaugural series in Bing Concert Hall and again on Feb. 2 in Stanford Memorial Church…” — Jordy Byrd, Pamplin Media Group (Oregon Days of Culture)
Tickets available from the Stanford Live website at www.live.stanford.edu