Press Reviews

Oregon ArtsWatch on The Tudor Choir

The Tudor Choir
The Tudor Choir

Photo by Jesson Mata

“The Tudor Choir re-opened for business this month. On hiatus since 2015, the ensemble presented one concert in their hometown of Seattle and two more in the Portland Metro area, at St. Mary’s Cathedral and in Hillsboro’s St. Matthew’s Church. The latter is a wonderfully accessible venue with a reverberant acoustic, challenging but with potential for this concert’s Tudor period music in which melismatic lines and reiterated melodies are woven through cleanly defined harmonies – when the choir and director find a way to bring this to the fore. …

[The premiere of Nico] Muhly’s Small Raine showed depth and gravitas, with shimmering added-note harmonies taking different paths of composition than anything else on the program. And yet, the piece was based on the same ancient secular tune, “Western Wind,” used in the Taverner Mass. …

Director Fullington wisely placed Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, by Seattle composer Jeff Junkinsmith (b. 1956), at the end of the first half of Tudor works. The choir commissioned this piece in 2001 and it is difficult to imagine it being performed better. It awakened the senses by flirting with bi-tonality, tertiary harmonies and lush texture. These excellent musicians dissected the dissonances as if wielding precision German steel. …

Hillsboro, Oregon’s fifth largest city, has great audience potential. … Cappella Romana deserves kudos for facilitating this event. There is cultural building to be done, surely, but more groups should be encouraged to come to Hillsboro rather than the opposite. … Just keep fine groups like the Tudor Choir coming. Do not miss them when they take the stage near you. The makings for an outstanding choral experience are there. It’s good to have them back.”

Bruce Browne, Oregon ArtsWatch

Smithsonian Magazine Features Icons of Sound

Our “Icons of Sound” concert and collaboration with Stanford University gets a fantastic feature in the Smithsonian Magazine:

“Hagia Sophia, a former church and mosque, is an important part of Istanbul’s long history. Who knew its sublime sound could be transferred to Stanford? Twice in the past few years, Stanford scholars and scientists have worked to digitally recreate the experience of being in Hagia Sophia when it was a medieval church. Collaborating with choral group Cappella Romana, they digitally recreated the former holy building’s acoustics, and performed medieval church music in the university’s Bing Concert Hall as if it was Hagia Sophia. Their efforts are part of a multi-year collaboration between departments at Stanford that asks the question: can modern technology help us go back in time? … The music that Cappella Romana performs is historical Christian music. Much of their work for the Hagia Sophia project has not been heard in centuries, writes Jason Victor Serinus for Stanford’s events blog. It certainly hasn’t been performed in the former church in all that time. … There’s no substitute for being there, as the saying goes. But since it’s impossible to travel back in time to be present at a tenth-century church service, this is maybe the next best thing.” —Kat Eschner, Smithsonian Magazine

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The Oregonian Explores Cappella Romana’s History

cr-featured-25thBrett Campbell explores Cappella Romana’s history in The Oregonian before this weekend’s 25th Anniversary Celebrations:

“When Alexander Lingas moved to San Francisco in 1990, the Greek Orthodox cathedral where he’d just been appointed associate cantor lay in ruins, devastated by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Lingas wanted to help the church rebuild – and the only contribution he could offer was music.

The Portland native had sung in his Greek Orthodox church, with local choir Cantores in Ecclesia and with the Portland State Chamber Choir. So he and his Portland musical friends piled into a van and headed south to perform a benefit concert. The church offered them lodging and a lavish, post-concert spaghetti dinner with freshly cured Greek olives.

After hearing the Northwesterners sing Greek Orthodox music from ancient Byzantium as well as contemporary Greek-American composers and more, nearly 300 listeners donated money for cathedral reconstruction. Lingas and friends decided to keep making music.…” —Brett Campbell, The Oregonian

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Orthodox Music: Ancient & Modern

25th Anniversary Celebration!

Orthodox Music: Ancient And Modern

A reprise of Cappella Romana’s 1991 début performance, including selections from the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil, rarely heard Byzantine chants from Constantinople, and Greek American choral works.

Friday 23 September, 7:30pm
St. James Cathedral


Followed by A Night on the Aegean Gala Reception


A Night on the Aegean: 25th Anniversary Gala

Following Orthodox Music: Ancient & Modern the opening performance of Cappella Romana’s 2016-17 Season

Friday, September 23, 2016
St. James Cathedral
804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
147 NW 19th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

Gramophone Magazine Names Steinberg: Passion Week An Editor’s Choice!

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekGramophone Magazine names our new Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week recording an August Editor’s Choice!

“This important and exciting release from the Portland, Oregon-based 26-strong chamber choir is a notable successor to their ‘Good Friday in Jerusalem’ disc (5/15). … This recording closely followed what is believed to have been the premiere complete performance by these forces. … The a cappella textures spread variously and luxuriantly into 12 parts, requiring, as might be expected, the sopranos to soar with jewel-like brilliance and the basses to delve to their reedy subterranean depths. Cappella Romana cope with all of this with an eloquent brilliance, singing with tremendous relish, as though this obscure masterpiece had been in their repertory for years. Their unanimity of attack and fastidious approach to dynamic contrasts are just two hallmarks of an outstanding achievement. Hats off, too, to Preston Smith and Steve Barnett for their superb engineering and production. …the finest advocacy from these fine musicians. This is definitely a disc to savour.” —Malcolm Riley, Gramophone Magazine

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Oregon ArtsWatch Reviews From Darkness to Light

Cappella Romana From Darkness to Light

Cappella Romana From Darkness to LightOregon ArtsWatch critic Jeff Winslow weighed in on Cappella Romana’s recent performance of Schnittke’s Verses of Repentance during our From Darkness to Light concert:

“Only a tin-eared deity could fail to be moved by such offerings. … In the final movement, over a constant drone from the low basses, the other voices, singing wordlessly with mouths closed, seemed to waft up into the heavens like clouds of incense. Consonance and dissonance were no longer distinct, but melded into one heartfelt expression that eventually found repose, not quite in, but one might say enfolded by the key of D major.… the exquisitely controlled voices and sensitive ears of quite possibly the city’s finest two dozen choral singers, carried the day and made the performance an experience which cast its spell long after the last note faded away.” —Jeff Winslow, Oregon ArtsWatch

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Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week in The New York Times

Steinberg: Passion Week

Steinberg: Passion WeekNew York Times critic James R. Oestreich shared that he’d been listening to our Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week recording in the ArtsBeatClassical Playlist”:

“‘Passion Week’…is on a scale with the great sacred works of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, though in a slightly more advanced idiom, and is quite simply beautiful.” —James R. Oestreich, The New York Times

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Good Friday in Jerusalem a “Home Run”

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 SepulchreThe “Almost Rational” blogger, Steven Bilow, calls Good Friday In Jerusalem a “Home Run” in his review:

“Cappella Romana’s Good Friday in Jerusalem is a superb example of just how lovely this music can be. It was recorded in a Church at Stanford and engineered by some clearly acoustically savvy members of Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). It was created, structured, and directed by UBC Musicologist and CR Artistic Director Alexander Lingas, And it was sung by a very talented subset of the a very talented and multifaceted vocal ensemble. In short, it is one of the best recordings of Byzantine church music you’ll find. … Definitely worth a listen. Personally, I want to see them get their Grammy! Check it out.” —Steven Bilow, Almost Rational

Read the full review on the Almost Rational blog!



Orthodox Arts Journal Review for Good Friday

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 SepulchreThe Orthodox Arts Journal asks “How can music be alive?” in On History and Tradition: A Review of Cappella Romana’s “Good Friday in Jerusalem”.

Good Friday in Jerusalem is no exception to the level of quality that audiences have come to expect from Cappella Romana’s recordings; the singing on the disc is at once rich, incisive, alive, and achingly beautiful. … The fact is that Byzantine chant is a tradition that is still growing and changing, like any living thing, and so the old and the new remain connected. In this way, a recording like Good Friday in Jerusalem has the capacity to inspire and influence the work of living composers of Byzantine chant, and it should. Even though some of the music on this disc is separated from today’s composers and chanters by nearly nine centuries, it is clear that both speak the same musical language and share the same musical culture in a deep way. … But in a living musical tradition, music being old is not in itself a problem, no more than the inner rings of a tree present a problem to the branches. In the context of a living tradition, the old and the new are one, with the old continuously watering the new at the same time as the new keeps the old alive. As long as Cappella Romana continues its work, there is good hope, I think, that the Byzantine chant tradition will not only stay alive, but will grow and thrive for some time yet.” —Benedict Sheehan, Orthodox Arts Journal

Read the full review and essay on the Orthodox Arts Journal

Good Friday In Jerusalem Now Available for Purchase and Download



Audiophile Audition Five Star Review for Good Friday In Jerusalem!

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 SepulchreAudiophile Audition‘s Steven Ritter gives five star to the new Cappella Romana Good Friday In Jerusalem release!

“This is the all-male version of Cappella Romana, and Alexander Lingas has his Portland-based ensemble going from strength to strength, perfectly judged balances among the melodists and those singing the ison, or lower drone notes, and executing these sometimes hugely challenging chants with razor-sharp precision and flawless unanimity. But what strikes me the most is the superb tonal quality of the group, rich, full, and velvety smooth in a genre that too often gives way to acerbic sonic ineptitude and soloistic grandstanding which gives chant a bad name. The resonance of the Stanford Memorial Church in California is expertly caught, though you might want to boost the volume a little. This disc is, simply, irresistible.” —Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

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MusicWeb International Reviews A Time For Life

Robert Kyr: A Time For Life

Robert-Kyr_A-Time-For-LifeBrian Reinhart of MusicWeb International reviews the new Cappella Romana release, A Time For Life:

“There can be no questioning Kyr’s skill as a composer. Just listen to the first five minutes, as singers enter one-by-one — there are only eight — to the accompaniment of a single solitary cello. Many writers would need half an orchestra to create the effect Kyr manages with one instrument. Kyr’s vocal style throughout is an ear-pleasing blend of traditional church music and contemporary, tonal, harmony with some really special climaxes: best of all the penultimate track and the “Dance of Life”. I think the best way to describe it is that there’s no doubting this music’s modern origins, but Haydn could listen to it with pleasure. … Speaking of the choir, the Cappella Romana here demonstrates why it has a devoted fan-base in the Pacific Northwest and, via records, across the globe. There is not a weak link or uninteresting voice among these eight singers. The three string players from Third Angle New Music deal superbly with their parts…The booklet includes notes by Kyr and conductor Alexander Lingas, full sung text, and a letter of commendation and congratulation from His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.” —Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International

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