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August 11, 2009

Ah, Cappella!

Crosscut.com (WA)

It was hard to come back down to earth after Saturday’s concert by Cappella Romana left the audience suspended in a zone of otherworldly beauty. The Portland-based vocal chamber choir gave its first-ever summer offering in the area at West Seattle's Holy Rosary Church — a stop on its tour northward to perform in this year’s MusicFest Vancouver.

Cappella Romana was founded in 1991 by Alexander Lingas, an acclaimed scholar and interpreter who holds triple citizenship (U.S., Canadian, and Greek) and who was on hand to rehearse and conduct the current tour. (See a rehearsal clip here. ) Can this group really still be such a well-kept secret in Seattle? The ensemble occupies a niche all its own — not just in the Northwest’s notable early music scene but for fans of contemporary choral music as well. It also stands apart as one of the few Northwest chamber choirs composed entirely of paid professional singers.

Westerners tend to think of chant in its familiar guise as the Gregorian chant of the Roman Catholic Church. But there is a whole other world that is its counterpart and is the central focus of Cappella Romana: the liturgical music of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The ensemble explores and champions the splendid variety of Byzantine and Slavic sacred music traditions. Its name refers to the post-Western Empire idea of Constantinople as the new Rome — the focal point where East and West come together. Cappella Romana’s signature programs might center around such topics as medieval Byzantine chant or ceremonial music written for the Hagia Sophia. (These can also be found in its current discography.)

Yet it also promotes the work of living composers who tap into various aspects of the Orthodox tradition, from the British Ivan Moody and John Tavener to the Greek-Canadian Christos Hatzis. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at August 11, 2009 12:00 AM

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