Autumn Reading Week found Alexander Lingas active on both sides of the Atlantic. He began by offering a public talk on ‘Russian Sacred Music between Byzantium and ‘the West’ at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, USA. Sponsored by the Reed College departments of Russian and Music, it considered the shifting cultural location of Russian Orthodox sacred music as rulers, clergy, and lay members of the church steered it from its Byzantine origins into the modern era. Repeated attempts through the centuries to re-engage with Byzantine traditions were contrasted with other movements emphasizing engagement with Western art music or Slavic exceptionalism. The next day he offered a lecture on Russian liturgy and its music to an undergraduate module on the history of Russian literature.
The morning after returning to the UK Dr Lingas travelled to the University of Winchester, where he demonstrated Byzantine chant at a Study Day sponsored by the Tavener Centre for Music and Spirituality. The day ended with Evensong at Winchester Cathedral, which included traditional Byzantine chanting alongside choral works by the late Sir John Tavener.
“Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre
During the last weekend of September 2017 Alexander Lingas and Spyridon Antonopoulos joined their colleagues in the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana for the inaugural Iași Byzantine Music Festival. The group was invited to Romania to perform its new programme of chant for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross as celebrated in the medieval rite of Hagia Sophia, a product of its participation in the research project Icons of Sound based at Stanford University. Held before a capacity audience in the “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre, the concert began with hymns in Arabic and Greek sung by the choir of the Hamatoura Monastery in Lebanon. Dr Lingas also joining esteemed colleagues in the field of Byzantine music as a member of the festival’s Scientific Committee, an academic and artistic advisory board.
A video of the complete performance is available here: https://doxologia.ro/evenimente/video-concert-extraordinar-de-muzica-psaltica-la-teatrul-national-din-iasi
Alexander Lingas directs Cappella Romana in Iasi
Spyridon Antonopoulos chants with Mark Powell and David Stutz
Psaltikon in Copenhagen
Dr Spyridon Antonopoulos, Honorary Research Fellow at City, recently led the vocal ensemble Psaltikon on a three-concert tour in Scandinavia. Psaltikon, founded by Antonopoulos in 2010, is a Boston-based vocal ensemble specializing in Byzantine chant and the music of the Eastern Mediterranean. For this tour, Psaltikon was joined by City University Reader in Music, Dr Alexander Lingas, along with Antonopoulos and six other singers. Prior to the tour, Dr Antonopoulos and Dr Lingas each gave papers at a Symposium on Religious Poetry and Performance at Uppsala University.
The tour program, entitled “Evenings Lights in Miklagård”, refers to the Scandinavian Viking name for Constantinople, the center of the world in the ninth century, when Halfdan the Viking carved his name into the parapet of the upper floor in Hagia Sophia’s southern gallery. The program explored chants which Halfdan might have heard while he inscribed his runes into Hagia Sophia’s marble. Central to the program were two kontakia, melismatic chants (whose text was originally composed in the sixth or seventh century), inscribed in the Psaltikon, the Constantinopolitan chant book for virtuoso soloists (the complementary Asmatikon contained the choral repertories). The kontakia were transcribed from a fourteenth century by the renowned musicologist Dr Ioannis Arvanitis, while the rest of the program editions were prepared by Dr Antonopoulos.
The tour’s first venue was the famous anatomical theater of the Museum Gustavianum. The ensemble then sang a concert for an audience of over 100 at Sofia Kyrka in Stockholm, before embarking on a five hour train through the Swedish woodlands to Copenhagen, where they were treated to a tour of the collections at the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, led by Dr Christian Troeslgård.
The MMB, founded in the 1930s at the University of Copenhagen, is one of the most important research institutes for Byzantine musicology. The tour closed with a concert in the beautiful acoustic of St. Thomas in the Frederiksburg neighborhood of Copenhagen.
Cappella Romana, the vocal ensemble founded and directed by City Reader in Music Alexander Lingas, offered the first North American festival dedicated to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt between 5 and 12 February, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, USA. Dr Lingas himself presented a lecture and directed four events, two of which featured instrumentalists of Portland’s Third Angle New Music ensemble: ‘Odes of Repentance’, a programme of a cappella sacred works; the Passio Domini nostril Jesu Christi secundum Ioannem by candlelight (with the participation of the choir of Lewis and Clark College); the Missa Syllabica sung within the context of a Roman Catholic mass; and a gala finale concert at Reed College featuring Pärt’s Te Deum alongside works by Sir James MacMillan, the late Sir John Tavener, and Thanos Mikroutsikos. The full programme book including essays by Dr Lingas is available here: http://www.cappellaromana.org/apfbook/
Many of the concerts were sold out and the festival generated considerable interest in the media. Here is a review from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/arvo-pärt-festival-in-portland-oregon-exceeds-expectations_us_58a7712fe4b026a89a7a2ae2
Dr Alexander Lingas of City and the men of the American-based vocal ensemble Cappella Romana recently completed an innovative collaboration with the Seattle Symphony that highlighted the roots of Sergei Rachmaninov’s orchestral music in the sound world of Russian liturgical chant. For three successive days, Dr Lingas led the singers both in pre-concert lecture-demonstrations of Russian sacred music and in two short vocal works sung immediately before splendid performances of Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto and Second Symphony directed by SSO Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Dausgaard. The concerts were hailed by audiences and critics, with the Seattle Times describing the participation of Cappella Romana as ‘highly atmospheric’ and ‘an innovative and thought-provoking entry into Rachmaninov’s musical world’. Full reviews are available here:
During this busy weekend Cappella Romana also presented performances in Seattle (at St James Roman Catholic Cathedral) and Portland, Oregon (at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral) of a full-length concert tracing ‘The Russian Chant Revival’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Full programme notes are available here:
A video of Dr Lingas’s informal talk before the Portland concert is here:
#RussianChantRevival pre-concert lecture in #PDX
Posted by Cappella Romana on Sunday, April 2, 2017
Smithsonian Magazine has recently published an article highlighting the participation of the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana in Icons of Sound, a research project on acoustics and music of the ancient basilica of Hagia Sophia based at Stanford University. Chants performed for Cappella Romana’s most recent appearance at Stanford were edited from medieval sources by two researchers from City’s Department of Music: Alexander Lingas and Spyridon Antonopoulos. Click here for the article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/you-can-hear-hagia-sophias-sublime-acoustics-without-trip-istanbul-180961563/.
Reader in Music Alexander Lingas and Research Fellow Spyridon Antonopoulos recently participated in a new stage of the Icons of Sound project on the phenomenology of worship during the Middle Ages at Hagia Sophia, the basilica built by Emperor Justinian I to be the cathedral of the city of Constantinople (modern Istanbul). This project is a collaboration between Professors Bissera Pentcheva (Department of Art History) and Jonathan Abel (CCRMA) of Stanford and Cappella Romana, the American-based vocal ensemble Dr Lingas founded in 1991.
Drs Lingas and Antonopoulos created new editions of medieval Byzantine chants for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September) that were given their first modern performances by Cappella Romana in Seattle (Washington), Portland (Oregon), and at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. A preview of the Stanford event is available here: https://live.stanford.edu/blog/october-2016/mysteries-hagia-sophia-revisited
After the Stanford concert, Drs Lingas and Antonopoulos attended a scholarly symposium at Stanford before embarking on a recording of the concert repertoire at the studios of CCRMA. Photos of Cappella Romana’s residency at Stanford are available here:
Cappella Romana, the American-based vocal ensemble founded by Reader in Music Alexander Lingas, appeared yesterday on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. Dr Lingas and Spyridon Antonopoulos, who received his doctorate from City and is now an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department, were interviewed by host Sean Rafferty. The archived broadcast is available here
After performing at St Giles Cripplegate on 1 July, City Reader in Music Alexander Lingas and Fellow Spyridon Antonopoulos will travel with Cappella Romana for two concerts in Belgium at festivals in St-Hubert and Namur:
Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West
Cappella Romana in St-Hubert, Belgium
Presented by: Royal Juillet Musical de Saint-Hubert
Cappella Romana in Namur, Belgium
Cyprus: Between Greek East & Latin West
Presented by: Festival musical de Namur
Monday, July 4th, 2016 7:30pm
Venue: Abbaye de Floreffe
Alexander Lingas, founder and artistic director
This tour is generously sponsored by a grant from USArtists International, a program of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.