Alexander Lingas

Patrick Comerford Previews Cappella Romana’s All-Night Vigil Centennial Performance And More

Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil

Alexander Lingas_Cappella Romana_Board and StaffAfter attending Dr. Alexander Lingas’ Kilkenny Arts Festival lecture “The Lost Music of Byzantium” last Saturday, blogger Patrick Comerford previews Cappella Romana’s upcoming Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil concert series:

“This year marks the centenary of the All-Night Vigil, the a cappella choral composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff, his Op. 37. … To mark this centenary, Cappella Romana is opening its 24th Annual Season with Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, with performances in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, that will include psalms and hymns by Tchaikovsky and others to place Rachmaninoff’s work within its larger context.

Cappella Romana is an ensemble celebrated for its recordings of the Byzantine liturgical tradition, dating back to the great church of Aghia Sophia in Constantinople, built by the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century. Some performances by Cappella Romana feature music from this tradition that has never before been heard by many, sometimes with new or rediscovered works brought to audiences by leading contemporary composers.

Cappella Romana’s Founder and Artistic Director, Dr Alexander Lingas, spoke in Kilkenny Castle yesterday [15 August 2015] about ‘The Lost Music of Byzantium’. … In his lecture, Alexander Lingas explored the traditions of Byzantine music dating back to before the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453. … He introduced us to a mediaeval musical tradition of the Greek Orthodox and Byzantine world based in Constantinople, the “New Rome,” and its Slavic neighbours. Its languages include Greek, Syriac, Armenian, Arabic, Slavonic, Romanian, and, today, French and English.

He quoted Saint John Chrysostom, who wrote: “For nothing so arouses the soul, gives it wings, sets it free from the earth, releases it from the prison of the body, teaches it to love wisdom, and to condemn and all the things if this life as concordant melody and sacred song composed in rhythm.”

And the soul was aroused and given wings at yesterday’s lecture.”

Read the full piece at

Cappella Romana Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil Concert Tickets:


Friday, 11 Sept. 2015, 7:30pm
St. James Cathedral


Saturday, 12 Sept. 2015, 7:30pm
St. Mary’s Cathedral

Sunday, 13 Sept. 2015, 2:30pm
St. Mary’s Cathedral

Good Friday In Jerusalem Now Available!

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Good Friday In Jerusalem Now Available for Purchase and Download



Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Alexander Lingas, artistic director and soloist; Stelios Kontakiotis, principal soloist; Spyridon Antonopoulos, John Michael Boyer, Constantine Kokenes, Mark Powell, melodists; Theodor Dumitrescu, David Krueger, Adam Steele, David Stutz, isokrates; Ioannis Arvanitis, performing editions;

Produced since 2004 by GRAMMY Award-winning producer Steve Barnett, Cappella Romana performs “music of purity and radiance” (Gramophone) in concerts of “luminous beauty” (Washington Post). Appearances in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Athens, Utrecht, Regensburg, and in the US Northwest all demonstrate how Cappella Romana “continues its ascent” (Wall Street Journal).

With Good Friday in Jerusalem, Cappella Romana’s intrepid male ensemble features international cantors from Greece, the UK, and the US, with Stelios Kontakiotis from Tinos, Greece, as principal soloist. Together they perform these chants with captivating modal inflections that underscore the deep pathos and personal drama of Good Friday. These profound selections for the 8th- and 9th-century ceremonies invoke an elaborate stational liturgy in Jerusalem’s most sacred Christian sites. Recorded in the splendid Stanford Memorial Church and sung in Byzantine Greek.

Extensive scholarly article by founding artistic director Dr. Alexander Lingas (City University London, University of Oxford), with full texts in Greek and translations in English.

Read the Liner Notes

Congratulations Dr. Spyridon Antonopoulos

Dr. Spyridon Antonopoulos

Dr. Spyridon Antonopoulos

All of us at Cappella Romana wish to congratulate Dr. Spyridon Antonopoulos on his being awarded a PhD in Musicology at City University London today. He was advised (with a dissertation on the Byzantine composer and theorist Manuel Chrysaphes) by Cappella Romana’s founder and artistic director Dr. Alexander Lingas, who serves on the faculty at City University London as Reader in Music.

Watch Cappella Romana’s Twelfth Night Performance

Watch the full performance from the Twelfth Night Festival in New York City courtesy of Trinity Wall Street!

Trinity Wall Street Performance

BBC Radio 4 Features Alexander Lingas

BBCRadio4 Alexander Lingas Interview

BBC Radio 4 interviews Cappella Romana artistic director Alexander Lingas in the second episode of the series, Byzantium Unearthed, and Cappella Romana can be heard in the opening of the first episode as well as throughout! Click below to listen to Episode Two; Alexander Lingas comes in around 15:00 mark:

BBCRadio4 Alexander Lingas Interview

Cappella Romana Thank You Notes

Cappella Romana Executive Director Mark Powell writes his Thanksgiving Thank You Notes:

GT_2014Web-Banner_250x250_1Join the #GivingTuesday movement by making a gift to Cappella Romana on or before December 2nd.

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a global movement born in 2012 to shine a light on giving back. It’s a holiday designed to rival Black Friday and Cyber Monday: a day to focus on what really matters.

And follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter!

Ways to Support Cappella Romana

Your support, at any level, is vital and makes a difference!

Save the Date — #GivingTuesday




After Two Days of Shopping, #GivingTuesday is a day to give back

December 2nd, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a global movement born in 2012 to shine a light on giving back. Make a gift to Cappella Romana by December 2nd.

#GivingTuesdayIt is a holiday designed to rival Black Friday and Cyber Monday: a day to focus on what really matters.

Save the date and follow the Cappella Romana countdown to #GivingTuesday on Facebook and Twitter!

Join the movement and participate in Giving Tuesday by making a contribution to Cappella Romana on or before December 2nd.

Ways to Support Cappella Romana

Alexander Lingas: Music, Acoustics, and Ritual in Byzantium

Alexander Lingas_Cappella Romana_Board and Staff

Enjoy the following video from an Alexander Lingas presentation in the Stanford Seminar Series “Aural Architecture” given in 2013:

The Fall of Constantinople — Program Notes

Constantinople | Cappella Romana

Constantinople | Cappella RomanaGreeks and Latins had lived uneasily together in the Eastern Mediterranean ever since the sack and occupation of Constantinople (1204–61) by crusader knights. During the 14th and 15th centuries, however, the shrunken Byzantine Empire and the remaining Western colonies were often forced to cooperate in desperate attempts to defend themselves against the Ottoman Turks. This situation is reflected by the music on this evening’s concert, which begins with music that would have been heard by Constantine XI, enthroned in 1448 and the last Roman Emperor of Constantinople. Even though his realm consisted of little more than the capital and the Peloponnesus, the majestic liturgy continued to pray for him and his Empire with many of the same forms employed during Byzantium’s apogee a millennium before. This may be seen in the solemn texts and music of the Entrance Rite for a Divine Liturgy celebrated by a bishop. After a series of processional antiphons, the clergy would enter the sanctuary as the Introit was sung. A hymn in honor of Christ’s resurrection from the weekly cycle of the eight modes was followed by acclamations to the reigning emperor (taken here from the manuscript Athens 2401) and one or more seasonal hymns known as kontakia. The kontakion selected for this program was probably written after Constantinople’s deliverance from an Arab siege in the seventh century and recalls the Mother of God’s role as chief protectress of the City.

The choirs and clergy would then sing in alternation the traditional version of the ancient “Thrice-Holy” (Trisagion) hymn, the melody of which is taken from the manuscript Iviron 1120. Dated 1458, this MS is an autograph of Manuel Chrysaphes, a prolific theorist and composer who served as a lead singer in Constantine’s chapel. The setting for “Glory to the Father…” is relatively elaborate and was meant to accompany a blessing given by the celebrating bishop. The Trisagion concludes with a ‘Dynamis’ coda, in which Chrysaphes subtly elaborates upon the hymn’s traditional melody.

Bereft of significant financial or military resources, the last emperors attempted to consolidate their remaining territory while balancing the competing interests of Italians and Ottomans through diplomacy and dynastic marriages. These concerns are reflected in Vasilissa ergo gaude, a Latin motet by the Franco-Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay (ca. 1400–74). Written while Dufay was employed by the Malatesta family’s Rimini branch, the work celebrates the marriage in 1421 of Cleophe Malatesta da Pesaro to Theodore Paleologos, Despot of the Morea (Peloponnesus) and son of the Emperor Manuel II (1391–1425).

In the fifteenth century, the Peloponnesian port of Patras was (as it remains today) an important meeting-point between the Greek East and the Latin West. As Gregorios Stathis has recently noted, the Byzantine musical manuscript Athens 2401 is an important witness to the vibrancy of cultural interchange in the city of the Apostle Andrew’s martyrdom. Its contents include works by Patras’ Protopsaltes (first cantor) Andreas Stellon of Cyprus (one of which is a composition honoring St. Andrew) and examples of efforts by Byzantine musicians to employ some of the simpler and (usually unnotated) types of polyphony practiced by their Italian colleagues. One of these is the two-part Hymn for Great Compline by Manuel Gazes the Lampadarios, the homorhythmic texture and open sonorities of which reflect the contemporary Western tradition of cantus planus binatim (“plainchant twice”).

Despite their absence from Athens 2401, elite forms of mensural polyphony were not unknown in the eastern Mediterranean, having been cultivated most notably at the court of the Lusignan Kings of Cyprus. Shortly before Patras reverted to Byzantine rule, Pandolfo Malatesta served as the Latin archbishop of Patras and presided over the rededication of a church honoring St. Andrew. Dufay marked the event with his radiant Italian motet Apostolo glorioso/Cum tua doctrina/Andreas Christi.

The ubiquity of the Latin rite is further indicated by the transmission in Byzantine neumes of the Gregorian Kyrie Cunctipotens genitor in Athens 2401. Discovered in modern times by Michael Adamis, it further demonstrates the interest of Byzantine cantors in the music of their Western colleagues. Perhaps of greater significance is the way in which the scribe translated what he heard into Byzantine notation, providing valuable information about the way contemporary Gregorian chant was being performed. For this performance, this chant is sung both unadorned and with unwritten extra voices reflecting contemporary techniques of polyphonic improvisation.

While the separation of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches is mentioned only briefly in Dufay’s motet for St. Andrew, negotiations for reunion became more urgent as the Ottoman threat grew. This movement climaxed under Pope Eugenius IV (1431–47) with the Council of Florence, at which a small Byzantine delegation of bishops and theologians assented to union with the Roman Catholic Church on 5 July 1439 in return for military aid. Dufay was a member of the papal chapel during the 1430s and it has recently been proposed that his imposing 5-part motet Ecclesiae militantis was written not for Eugenius’s coronation, as generally believed, but to commemorate the search for union at Florence.

At all events, the aid promised by the West at Florence was never delivered and public opposition prevented the official promulgation of the union—the terms of which were viewed as total capitulation to Papal supremacy and other Latin doctrines—in Constantinople until December of 1452, after which most Orthodox refused to attend services at St. Sophia. Nevertheless, there remained a number of prominent Byzantine converts to the Latin cause, among whom was the composer and theorist John Plousiadenos (ca. 1429–1500). Later consecrated bishop of Venetian-held Methone, Plousiadenos displayed his uniate sympathies in a number of literary works including the Canons in honor of Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Florence. Both canons are set to melodies from well-known works by John of Damascus, transcribed here from the manuscript Vatopedi 1529. Like Gazes’ compline Hymn, Plousiadenos’ Communion Verse is related to the Western tradition of cantus planus binatim. This setting for Mid- Pentecost is from a manuscript presently located in the Athonite monastery of Dochiariou (MS 315), in which the upper part is labeled “τὸ τενώρει” (“the tenor”) and the lower part is described as “τὸ κείμενον” (“the text”).

This program concludes with two threnodies for the fall of New Rome to Mehmed the Conqueror on 29 May 1453. The first is Chrysaphes’s setting of verses from Psalm 78, transcribed by Markos Vasileiou from MS Iviron 1120. The Lamentatio Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae by Dufay is the only one to survive of the four laments he composed to mark this event. These works were probably written in 1455 as part of an effort to convince Pope Callixtus III to mount a crusade against the Turks, one of many such schemes that was never realized.

—Alexander Lingas

Concert Tickets & Information

A Note from the Executive Director

Mark Powell_Cappella-Romana_Board and Staff

Mark Powell_Cappella-Romana_Board and StaffDear friends,

Cappella Romana just successfully completed one of its largest seasons ever. Last month the ensemble recorded Steinberg’s Passion Week, the remarkable work performed complete for the first time in April, with Grammy-award winning producer Steve Barnett.

This coming season is the ensemble’s most ambitious, with 13 performances in the Pacific Northwest series: 5 programs performed on Fridays in Seattle, and Saturdays and Sundays in Portland. We’re thrilled to be able to offer you more of “the Northwest’s leading chamber choir” (Oregon ArtsWatch).

The first program of the season is performed on Labor Day Weekend, an unusual time for certain for a classical concert. However the performances in Seattle and Portland of “The Fall of Constantinople” are given just prior to the ensemble’s first appearance at the Utrecht Early Music Festival in the Netherlands, the most important Early Music festival in the world. The concert given there (on September 7) will be broadcast on all the major European broadcasting networks, including the BBC, Radio France, and German Public Radio.

Here in the Northwest, there’s still time to subscribe: you can save a lot if you buy all five concerts!

I look forward to seeing you at Cappella Romana this coming season.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark Powell

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