Monthly Archives: April 2015

Drs Lingas and Antonopoulos Tour NW and SE of the USA with Cappella Romana

billboard2-300x267Alexander Lingas led the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana recently performed medieval Byzantine chant to large and enthusiastic audiences in the Southeast and Northwest regions of the USA. Recent City graduate Spyridon Antonopoulos was a soloist in all these performances.

They performed “Good Friday in Jerusalem,” a programme that the ensemble had previously recorded at Stanford Memorial Church and was released on February 10th of this year, immediately reaching #1 on Amazon’s Vocal and Opera charts and opening at #8 on the Billboard Classical charts.

“Good Friday in Jerusalem,” features Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Typikon of the Anastasis (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), including works by Kosmas the Melodist (8th century), Romanos the Melodist (6th century), Theophanes Protothronos (9th century), and Leo VI the Wise (866–912).

The first performance in the South was in Charlotte, NC on Friday, 13 March at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church

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The next day the group travelled to Atlanta, GA, where on Saturday, 14 March they performed at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral



On Sunday morning the ensemble chanted  morning services for over three hours (Matins, a hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, and an Ordination to the Priesthood) at Annunciation Cathedral.




A few weeks before the ensemble had presented three performances of the same programme on the opposite coast of the USA in Portland, Oregon and Seattle Washington:



James McQuillen of Oregon Artswatch  wrote the following about the Portland performances:

“On a strictly sonic level, the concert at Portland’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was magnificent … As with last year’s concerts of Finnish Orthodox music, it was especially satisfying to hear the singers perform music they’d already worked to a fine polish for committing to disc. The ten men filled the space with dark resonance, making effortless work of melismatic unison melodies and rock-solid drones, and the pacing was measured but unflagging. … The concert also invited a listener to delve into the expressive potential of this ancient music, a kind of artistic expression that, because the rigors and self-negating ethos of the medieval church are worlds away from the nakedly personal poetry of, say, Schubert, we have little ability to grasp. But it was impossible not to hear the laments of Mary at the foot of the cross and not be moved. … Good Friday in Jerusalem went deep, and it sounded close to the spring from which poured centuries of sacred music.”

Read the full review on Oregon Artswatch

Video from the performance at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon:


Recording of Steinberg’s ‘Passion Week’ directed by Alexander Lingas a ‘Landmark Recording’


Steinberg: Passion WeekA few weeks before the release of the world premiere recording of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week directed by Alexander Lingas, Benedict Sheehan of the Orthodox Arts Journal  gave this new disc from Cappella Romana a rave review:

“Every so often a record comes along that changes the landscape of choral music.…The work itself is the sort of thing musicologists dream about: a treasure of inestimable musical value, hidden away in some attic or dusty library stack, unknown for nearly a century. Similar to conductor Johann von Herbeck happening upon Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony nearly forty years after the composer’s death, the discovery of Steinberg’s Passion Week is cause for celebration among lovers of music. It is a profoundly moving piece of sacred choral literature, and a masterwork of compositional craft. … While the discovery of this long-lost major work of sacred choral music is a milestone in the history of the literature, in no lesser degree is Cappella Romana’s rendering of the piece a landmark contribution to the modern canon of choral recordings. In every respect, and I don’t use these words lightly, their new disc is a triumph. Using their characteristic radiantly bright and clear sound—a welcome relief from the proliferation of performances that seem to be stuck in the wrong-headed notion that Russian sacred music has to be dark, dramatic, and ponderous, with a superabundance of vocal “cover”—Alexander Lingas and the singers of Cappella Romana bring a highly refined musical sensibility to the Steinberg score. Every vocal line is luminously present to the ear, every musical idea carefully considered and totally convincing. The solos in the piece too emerge seamlessly from the ensemble like subtly brighter beams of light, commanding but never dominating or seizing attention too boldly. Of particular note are the brief but captivating solos of baritone (and executive director of the ensemble) Mark Powell and soprano Catherine van der Salm. … Such a beautiful work deserves the attention of the world. However, if it is going to capture the world’s attention it needs a vehicle, and I will be surprised if anyone can offer a better one than Cappella Romana’s new record anytime soon. Indeed, though it’s only March, I will be surprised if a better choral recording of anything comes out this year.” —Benedict Sheehan, Orthodox Arts Journal

Read the full review at

Classical MPR’s Choral Stream features ‘Passion Week’ for Good Friday

Classical MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) broadcasted the world premiere recording of Passion Week by Maximilian Steinberg made by Cappella Romana under the direction of Alexander Lingas on (Latin) Good Friday. An insider’s perspective on the recording was given by Grammy-winning producer Steve Barnett several days prior to the broadcast. A recap of the Twitter stream during the broadcast is available here.

Good Friday In Jerusalem in Gramophone Magazine


Good Friday In Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy SepulchreThe latest edition of Gramophone Magazine reviews Good Friday In Jerusalem, a CD directed by Alexander Lingas and featuring recent alumnus Spyridon Antonopoulos:

“It would be difficult to find a group more steeped in serious musicological research than Cappella Romana, and their discs of music of the Byzantine tradition (mainly medieval chant but also modern, related works) have, as a result, a general sense of quiet elegance and authority. Their recording of music for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is no exception, and as such is one that not only stands up as a sound world of unique beauty but as a reference for composers writing into their music an influence that is constantly expanding and changing. … it is hard not feel that the work this group is doing is not only presenting music that has a veneer of inaccessibility in a way that releases its particular beauty but also allowing it to bloom and continue to evolve.” —Caroline Gill, Gramophone


New radio feature on Ian Pace and Michael Finnissy, and article on 9/11 opera

On Saturday April 18th, on BBC Radio 3’s programme ‘Hear and Now’, a feature in the series ‘Modern Muses’ was broadcast documenting the long-term collaboration between pianist Ian Pace, Lecturer in Music and Head of Performance at City, and composer Michael Finnissy. This can be downloaded as a podcast here.

Also just published is a new article by Ian Pace for The Conversation, entitled ‘Between Worlds: the danger of transforming 9/11 into stylised art’, considering the new opera by Tansy Davies and wider questions of opera and realism, and the transformation of traumatic events into aesthetic spectacle. Any comments from interested parties (including those studying opera or music theatre at City) would be welcomed, either here or under the article itself.

New articles in Music and Letters and Music Teacher by Ian Pace

Two new articles by Ian Pace, Lecturer in Music and Head of Performance, have recently been published. The first is a review-article entitled ‘Ferneyhough Hero: Scholarship as Promotion’, Music and Letters, Vol. 96, No. 1, pp. 99-112, a comprehensive critique of Lois Fitch, Brian Ferneyhough (Bristol: Intellect, 2013). Drawing upon intimate knowledge of Ferneyhough’s music (which Pace has performed over a 25 year period, including the world premiere of the piano piece Opus Contra Naturam (1999-2000), and written about previously) and also of the wide range of scholarly and other literature on Ferneyhough, he argues in detail that this is a fundamentally flawed and hagiographic work more akin to promotional literature than scholarship, drawing wider conclusions about the problems of writing on living composers where writers’ primary concern is to flatter their subject and win favour in such a manner. A longer 35 000 word article, ‘Brian Ferneyhough: A Critical Overview of the Literature’, a thorough critical survey of all types of writings in four languages on Ferneyhough’s work, has recently passed through peer review and will be published in Issue 12 of the online journal Search: Journal for New Music and Culture later this year.

Of a totally different nature is another article by Ian Pace published in the April 2015 issue of Music Teacher magazine, entitled ‘Safeguarding’ (pp. 13-15). Following earlier writings (see here and here) in the wake of the conviction of early music conductor Philip Pickett. The article also reprints his Guidelines for Teachers and Students.