Björk Guðmundsdóttir interviews Arvo Pärt

Icelandic artist Björk Guðmundsdóttir (also known simply as Björk) interviewed Arvo Pärt for a 1997 BBC documentary about musical minimalists.

“In art, all things are possible, but not all things are necessary” –Arvo Pärt


I can’t help but think about St. Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians when it comes to why Pärt’s music is the way it is: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (I Cor. 10.13).

It’s also worth noting that Björk has worked extensively on a number of recordings and projects with Arvo’s son, Michael Pärt, who is also a musician. A film composer and producer, he has worked on both independent and blockbuster films. He and his wife (also from Iceland) live in Estonia, where he is chairman of the board of the Arvo Pärt Centre.


Mark Powell
Executive Director, Cappella Romana
Producer, Arvo Pärt Festival

The Arvo Pärt Festival

The first-ever festival in North America dedicated to the music of Estonian Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt will take place February 5 – 12, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, presented by the Northwest’s leading professional chamber choir, Cappella Romana. Arvo Pärt is the most performed living composer in the world. Full information.

The Arvo Pärt Festival features eight (8) live performances of music by Arvo Pärt with chamber music (including Spiegel im Spiegel), the complete organ works, a cappella choral works (including selections of the Kanon Pokajanen), a late-night performance of the Passio by candlelight, the Missa Syllabica sung in a Latin mass, and a festival finale featuring Pärt’s Te Deum for three choirs, strings, and prepared piano, Da Pacem Domine (commissioned by Jordi Savall in memory of the victims of the Madrid terrorist bombings in 2004), and the US premiere of Alleluia-Tropus celebrating St. Nicholas.

The live events of the festival will be preceded with a screening of the new film “Arvo Pärt: Even if I lose everything” at Whitsell Auditorium, NW Film Center.

The Arvo Pärt Festival also features two free public lectures, including “The Words Write My Music,” by Peter Bouteneff, professor of theology at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York and author of the new book Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence.

Lead Sponsor: Ronni Lacroute.


Icons of Sound: Hagia Sophia Reimagined – Photo Edition

Icons of Sound: Hagia Sophia Reimagined

Enjoy photos by Theodor Dumitrescu from our Icons of Sound: Hagia Sophia Reimagined project and performance:

For Your Consideration

Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West

Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West

Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin WestCappella Romana

Alexander Lingas, artistic Director

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 Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West, Alexander Lingas leads Cappella Romana in an intrepid exploration of Cypriot music in both Byzantine and Western styles, including refined ars subtilior music composed for the Royal Court of Cyprus (c. 1308-1432) from the manuscript J.II.9 housed at the University of Turin.

“Cappella Romana is at its sterling best, well-disciplined and highly focused readings of authority, clarity, and, most importantly, genuine empathy and feeling. Couple that with ingratiating sound and you have a highly desirable disc.” —Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

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

Live Cyprus performance from BBC Studios

2015 Pacific Northwest Cyprus Rehearsals

Meet Stelios Kontakiotis

kontakiotisStelios Kontakiotis, principal soloist

Stelios Kontakiotis is protopsaltis (first chanter) of the Holy Temple of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary on the sacred island of Tinos, Greece, one of the most prominent pilgrimage sites in Greece.

Mr. Kontakiotis was born in Athens and grew up on the island of Amorgos (Cyclades-Greece). He began his studies in Byzantine Music at the Conservatory of Athens with Mr. Lazarus Kouzinopoulos and the late Spyros Peristeris as his teachers, on a scholarship from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Greece. In 1994 he took his first degree in Chanting from the Conservatory of Athens, and in 2000 his Diploma in Byzantine Music from the National Conservatory of Greece.

He has served as a professional chanter since 1992 in the churches of Saint George (Palaio Iraklio), Nativity of Christ (Paiania) and Holy Trinity (Ambelokipoi) in Greater Athens. He also founded and conducted the Byzantine Music Choir, consisting of young adults, which performed in many concerts and services throughout the greater Athens area.

During the years 1990-2000, he took classical voice lessons and he joined the National Radio Choir (ERT) as a tenor. With the ERT Choir he took part in numerous operas, oratorios, and concerts throughout Greece and Europe. He also participated in other choirs and vocal ensembles such as the choir of The Athens Megaron concert hall in Athens, Emmeleia choir of Athens, the vocal ensemble Polyfonia of Athens, and the choir of Leivadeia.

In 2000,  he was appointed to the position of Protopsaltis (first chanter) and Choir Director at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, where he served until 2008 when he auditioned for and was awarded his current post at Tinos.
During his stay in the USA he gave lectures, master-classes and performed at concerts with the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral Choir as well as chanting at Eastern Orthodox religious services and concerts in the Washington-Metro area, in churches and at venues such as Catholic University, the US Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution and the Greek Embassy. He also gave the first Byzantine music concert at Duke University Chapel in 2004.

From 2000 to 2006 he collaborated with the Romeiko Ensemble chanting in religious services, concerts, and CD recordings.
Mr. Kontakiotis founded and still leads the Byzantine Choir of the Metropolis of Syros on the island of Tinos.  He is also a member of the ensemble “MELIDRON” performing a varied repertory ranging from East to West, balanced between traditional and modern, old folk music and new.

His voice can be heard in songs in animated films translated into Greek from the English original, such as The Prince of Egypt (DreamWorks), Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Pocahontas (Disney). He also recorded the male voice for the Rosetta Stone Greek Language Learning Software.

Since 2006 he has collaborated with Cappella Romana as principal soloist in concerts throughout the United States and Europe, appearing also as principal soloist on Cappella Romana’s recording of medieval Byzantine chant from St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai.

Remember the World Premiere of A Time for Life

The full-page preview of A Time for Life in the Oregonian back in 2007:

Click here for the PDF.


And the review:



For Holy Friday: Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a Tree

Today, for Holy Friday, sung in the original medieval melody

Antiphon 15. Tone 6

Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a Tree, (x3)
He who is King of the Angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in mocking purple.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan receives a blow on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails.
The Son of the Virgin is pierced by a lance,.
We worship your Sufferings, O Christ (x3)
Show us also your glorious Resurrection.

Help Us Ring In the New Year!

Help us ring in the new year right! Make or increase your gift to Cappella Romana by midnight tonight and the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund will match your gift! If you have already made a new gift to support Cappella Romana’s important work in music in the Orthodox inheritance, THANK YOU!

Give Now!

A Time For Life — Conclusion

Robert Kyr: A TIme for Life

Robert Kyr: A TIme for LifeThe final phase of the journey (Part III: Remembering) moves towards a hopeful future in which humanity serves as a responsible steward of the earth and thus realigns itself with the creative forces of existence. This journey is a spiritual one in which we remember our true responsibility of stewardship for the earth, and through this awakening finally “act(s) as one to preserve creation” (Part III: Final Chorale). This spiritual awakening leads to true and sustained action, as the final arc of the journey passes through three phases: “…remembering… restoring… rejoicing…” In turn, these phases lead to gratitude for all life: “Beauty before me…behind me…below me…above me…around me…In beauty it is finished…”

A Time for Life is dedicated to Alexander Lingas and Cappella Romana. I believe that music and the arts have a crucial role to play in the transformation of the current energy of cynicism and destruction into the life-sustaining attitude and energy of creativity. And thus, my environmental oratorio traces our journey from a state of division and separation to the way of unity and wholeness.

—Robert Kyr

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A Time For Life — Structure

Robert Kyr: A TIme for LifeThe composite text for A Time for Life was adapted from a wide range of sources that explore the relationship of humanity to nature. The work is structured in three large-scale parts, as follows:

Part I: Creation

In the first part, the nature of creation is celebrated through praise for the Creator and through rejoicing in the pure creative force of existence. The text was adapted from several sources: a Sioux Prayer; an Eskimo Song; Psalm 8; An Akathist in Praise of God’s Creation (attributed to Metropolitan Tryphon, 1934, but possibly written by Father Gregory Petrov who died in a Soviet prison camp in 1942); and the Orthodox “Service for the Environment” that was written in 1961 by the monk Gerasimos at the monastery of the Skete of Little Anne on Mt. Athos (Greece).

Part II: Forgetting

The second part explores humanity’s present inability to live in harmony with nature as “forgetting” and makes a recurrent appeal to the Creator: “…We forget who we are. Help us to remember…Forgetting is structured in six sections and each consists of two parts—a “supplication” (a solo followed by canons) paired with a “witness” account (an aria, duo or trio). The sources for Part II are: the U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program; the Books of Jeremiah and Isaiah; the Chinook Psalter; and an Ojibway Prayer, as well as the Orthodox “Service for the Environment.”

Part III: Remembering

The third part begins with the Dance of Life followed by the Canticle of Life. The “dance” features a double chorus singing call-and-response (three women juxtaposed with three men), whereas the “canticle” is structured in four parts, each of which contains a soliloquy (solo), a section of canons, and a chorale (full, eight-voice choral texture). The text sources for Part III are a Pawnee/Osage/Omaha Indian Song, a Navaho Chant, the Book of Ecclesiastes, and the Orthodox “Service for the Environment.”

A Time for Life is a “musical play” that traces a journey from the glory of Creation as it was given to humanity (Part I) through our destructive behavior as demonstrated by the current global environmental crisis (Part II: Forgetting). The potential for destruction is total: the forest (Supplication & Witness II); the oceans (Supplication III); animal life (Supplication IV); the air we breathe (Supplication V); and the entire planet itself as plagued by corruption and abuse (Supplication VI). No one can escape the responsibility for the earth (“My people are fools,/Senseless children/Who have no understanding”), especially the leaders (“No more will the fool be called noble,/For he speaks foolishly,/Planning evil in his heart”). The ruling class of all nations is particularly culpable in its folly (“Howl, you shepherds, and wail!/Roll in the dust, leaders of the flock!/There is no flight for shepherds,/No escape for leaders of the flock./There is no escape!”).

— Robert Kyr

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Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections

The Byzantine Inheritance performances are a part of the National Gallery of Art’s celebrations around the new “Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections” exhibition.

From the National Gallery of Art Website:

In the first-ever exhibition of Byzantine art at the Gallery, some 170 works of art, many never before lent to the United States, will be on view—among them mosaics, icons, manuscripts, jewelry, and ceramics. The works include newly discovered and unpublished objects and reveal the rich and multifaceted culture of Byzantium. Divided into five thematic sections, the exhibition explores the coexistence of paganism and Christianity, spiritual life in Byzantium, secular works of art used in the home, the intellectual life of Byzantine scholars, and the cross-influences that occurred between Byzantine and Western artists before the fall of Byzantium.

The program: The Byzantine Inheritance

Cappella Romana’s founder and artistic director Dr. Alexander Lingas (City University London) will lead a mixed ensemble in a 1000-year journey beginning with ancient Byzantine chant and musical encounters with Crusaders and Venetians, including Greek and Latin polyphony from the island of Crete. East meets West again at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Frank Desby founded a tradition of Greek American choral music, which was continued by other Greek composers such as Tikey Zes, Peter Michaelides, Theodore Bogdanos, and Steven Cardiasmenos. The tour comes full circle with the mystical ecstasy of music by Athenian composer Michael Adamis (1929-2013).


Saturday 26 October 2013, 7:00 pm
Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral
30 Malvern Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221
Sponsored by the Cathedral Organizations
Free admission

Sunday 27 October 2013, 6:30 pm
The National Gallery of Art
Sixth Street and Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC

Concerts at the National Gallery are open to the public, free of charge. Admittance is on a first-come, first-seated basis, beginning 30 minutes before each concert. The entrance at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW remains open on Sunday until 6:30 p.m. Families with small children may be asked to sit in designated areas. Please note that late entry or reentry of the West Building after 6:30 p.m. is not permitted. For further information, call (202) 842-6941.