Review

Seattle Machaut Review

Cappella Romana Rehearsing Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame in Seattle
Cappella Romana Rehearsing Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame in Seattle

The men of Cappella Romana are warming up for Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame in Seattle!

“The most visceral part of the recital was simply the experience of hearing this music in a close approximation to its original acoustical and architectural context. What’s more, partaking in Machaut’s Messe reinforces why Medieval music is so fascinating to contemporary composers. Listening to it is rather like listening to a 20th century landmark composition for the first time. The music is speculative, exploratory, even avant-garde. You can tell that its practitioners were eager to learn how polyphony worked: how voices should move, how textures might be built, which intervals should be considered consonant or dissonant, and how one could possibly capture these newfangled ideas in written form—the very concept of a “piece” of music as a physical manifestation on a scrap of parchment. When you hear these sounds, you’re listening to the birthing of Western art music, the fledgling of a new musical language—even if that sense of striving is less evident in the Messe (which culminated both Machaut’s career and a particular lineage of French polyphony reaching back three centuries) than it might be in Machaut’s more experimental chansons, or the motets and organa of his Frankish predecessors. … It’s fitting that his valedictory work, the product of such tumult and persistence, should convey so directly to modern listeners a momentous range of musical and human experience.”

Michael Schell

See the full review of the concert and music at Schellsburg.com

Sun of Justice on Ancient Faith Radio

John Michael Boyer and John El Massih join the Ancient Faith Radio podcast to talk about the debut PRÓTO release, Sun of Justice! Listen and subscribe at AncientFaith.com

Sun of Justice: Byzantine Chant for Christmas in Greek, Arabic, and English

Cappella Romana Media combines passion with scholarship in its exploration of early and contemporary music of the Christian East and West.

Featuring classical chants in Greek primarily by Petros Peloponnesios (1730–1778). Adaptations into Arabic primarily by Mitri El Murr (1880–1969) and those into English by John Michael Boyer (b. 1978) closely echo the originals in form, style, and grace.

This debut release by PRÓTO presents traditional chants for the Byzantine celebration of Christmas, including selections from The Royal Hours, Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy. A deluxe 32-page booklet is included with full texts in Greek, Arabic, and English.

Also Available via CD, Download, and Streaming At

iTunes Amazon Spotify Arkiv primephonic

Sun of Justice Concert Series

Cappella’s Associate Music Director John Michael Boyer directs exhilarating Byzantine chants for Christmastide in Greek, Arabic, and English. Featuring Lebanon-born guest soloist, Rev’d Deacon John (Rassem) El Massih, and the release of a new CD of the program.

With performances in Seattle, Portland, Salem, and Sacramento.

SALEM

Thu 14 Dec, 7:30pm
Greek Orthodox Mission Church of Salem
at Blanchet High School
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SEATTLE

Fri 15 Dec, 8:00pm
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
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The Sun Break Review for Arctic Light II: Northern Exposure

“St. James Cathedral is the perfect space in which to hear Cappella Romana. The sonorities of the deep voices and the pure quality of all the voices in this unaccompanied choir make harmonies as clean as they can be, sometimes creating overtones if you listen carefully, and enhanced by the acoustics of the setting, as well as its ambiance…

We hear so much superb music in Seattle, and at least three quarters is that of tried and true familiar composers. Wonderful as that is, it’s a refreshing delight to hear the music sung by groups such as Cappella Romana, which never ceases to bring us superb performances often of completely unfamiliar music, impeccably researched and musically moving. Or it can be an unusual setting of something we know well. This concert was another such.”

Philippa Kiraly, The Sun Break

Read the full review on TheSunBreak.com

American Record Guide Review for Cyprus

Cyprus: Between Greek East and Latin West

“Alexander Lingas is one of today’s leading experts on Byzantine music, but he has also developed a vocal group, the Cappella Romana, that has been building an impressive catalog of recordings ranging through the span of Greek Orthodox music, including contemporaneous practice both abroad and in the USA. The present program is an exploration of inter-cultural liturgical life of which Byzantine music was a part. … Lingas and his 11 singers are perfectly in their element.” —John Barker, American Record Guide

Fanfare Magazine Review for Cyprus: Between Greek East and Latin West

Cyprus: Between Greek East and Latin West

New Fanfare Magazine review for our Cyprus: Between Greek East and Latin West recording!

Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West

“Musicologist Alexander Lingas continues his mesmerizing exploration of the music of both traditions with a release that offers, as he states in his extensive notes, ‘a sampling of the Byzantine and Latin sacred music that someone could have encountered during the fifteenth century by walking the short distance between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic cathedrals of Nicosia.’ Included are traditional chants in Eastern and Western styles, along with music of the more advanced types: isorhythmic motets and kalophonic hymns and kratema (vocalise interludes). … The juxtaposition of these two styles, in a way unique to this time in Cyprus, renders the similarities and divergences in the styles clearer than any dissertation could and makes this a particularly valuable recording for students of this period and region. It goes without saying that the performances of the Portland, Oregon-based professional chorus Cappella Romana are extraordinary. The choir, led by artistic director Lingas, consists of 11 male and female singers, with the robust men’s section taking the Orthodox chant and the women joining in the motets and Latin mass. At least two altos add an upper voice to one of the kalophonic works. As in previous releases in the choir’s now extensive discography, the finest scholarship is aligned with artistry of the highest order. The tone is wonderfully varied and evocative, especially the rich drone of the Orthodox chant. The women’s voices are pure but warm. The unnamed solo cantors are fluent and secure. Any lover of late-medieval music should find this an absolute delight. Add Lingas’s erudite notes, the sizable bibliography, the authoritative editions, and the superb engineering, and this release becomes indispensable.” —Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare

Buy before 6/15/17 during our Spring Album Sale!

Early Music America: Reveling in Byzantine Chant

Philippa Kiraly has published a wonderful feature including reviews and interviews with Mark Powell and Alexander Lingas in honor of our 25th Season, as well as a preview of our upcoming Hagia Sophia “Icons of Sound” recording:

“Cappella Romana opened its 25th season in October in Seattle and Portland with “Icons of Sound: Byzantine Chant from Hagia Sophia.” Enhanced by the reverberant acoustics of Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, the sound of early Byzantine church music created a hypnotic effect as eight men — more than half of them Greek Orthodox cantors — and five women sang music from scholarly editions, much of it prepared by the singers themselves.…

“The sound created by Cappella Romana’s men singing early chant is like nothing heard elsewhere. There’s an initial firm start to phrases that seems almost to come from under the note, though it doesn’t. There’s a rich resonance, a strongly cored, open sound with a lot of depth, and no vibrato. The music often has a limited range, spanning not much more than an octave, while its highly ornamented melodies are usually sung over one or more drones that indicate the tetrachord (a four-note range) of the mode in use. When you hear the ensemble, it only takes a few measures to know that this is Cappella Romana.…

“Participation since 2010 in Cappella Romana’s ongoing Stanford Research Project — from which the October concert was a natural offshoot — had the choir heading to San Francisco immediately after the Hagia Sophia concert. “Icons of Sound: Aesthetics and Acoustics of Hagia Sophia” was a collaboration between Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics and the Department of Art and Art History.

The aim was to use real-time digital signal processing to synthesize the acoustics of Hagia Sophia itself. In Istanbul, the Stanford crew was allowed only to work in the middle of the night. They popped balloons in Hagia Sophia, measuring the reverberation times and signal response at all frequencies around the cathedral, capturing this information into their computers, and bringing the results back to Stanford. Cappella Romana’s part was to sing while wearing tiny microphones on their foreheads in Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall, with the signals processed and distributed to an array of 24 loudspeakers distributed throughout the hall. “I was prepared for it to sound fake,” says Powell, “but it sounded and felt like the real thing.”

The resulting Cappella Romana CD will likely come out in 2017, adding to its catalog of more than 20 recordings. To get a taste of the ensemble’s distinctive and unmistakable sound, go to YouTube to find dozens of excerpts.…” —Philippa Kiraly, Early Music America

See the full feature on Early Music America

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

See the full feature on SmithsonianMag.com

Cyprus Named a Recording of the Year

Cyprus: Between Greek East and Latin West

MusicWeb International critic Johan van Veen names our Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West a 2016 Recording of the Year!

“Cappella Romana is an ensemble which specializes in early and contemporary music of the Christian East and West. This explains that the programme recorded here sounds very idiomatic. The singing is impressive and the liturgical character of the chants selected for this disc comes off convincingly.”

See the full MusicWeb International list at www.musicweb-international.com, and read Johan van Veen’s orignal review of the recording!

Artslandia Reviews Handel’s Messiah

Handel's Messiah with Monica Huggett conducting

Handel's Messiah with Monica Huggett conducting

“…since 2010 the choruses have been sung by Cappella Romana, the city’s finest choir.… Given their long experience with the piece (and a wide range of other music besides), Cappella Romana was unsurprisingly terrific; their performance was a model of Handel performance and worth the price of admission on its own. Within and across sections, blend and intonation were impeccable, and attention to the text so careful you could have taken dictation. Some moments—“For unto us a child is born,” for example, were pure choral pleasure, while others, such as “Let all the angels” and “The Lord gave the word,” conveyed the implacable force of a fiery sermon.” —James McQuillen, Artslandia

Read the full review on artslandia.com

Steinberg: Passion Week a Gramophone Recording of the Year

Steinberg: Passion WeekGramophone Magazine released their 2015 Recordings of the Year issue and included our Maximilian Steinberg: Passion Week recording!

“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

Buy The CD & The VINYL Today!