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Gramophone names Passion Week an August Editor’s Choice

The latest recording by City Reader in Music Alexander Lingas and his US-based ensemble Cappella Romana has been named an Editor’s Choicesteinberg_passion_week in the August issue of Gramophone, which features a rave review of the disc by Malcolm Riley:

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). Under their inspiring director Alexander Lingas they turn their attention to a recently rediscovered choral gem, the 47-minute long Passion Week by the Lithuanian-born composer Maximilian Steinberg (1883-1946). 

… 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. 

Read the full review here.

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

11059670_10206173513967086_3264082679297797392_nSt Nekarios IMG_0142-L


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


The First Review of ‘Good Friday in Jerusalem: Medieval Byzantine Chant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre’

jerusalem_CDA week before its official release, Audiophile Audition gives a rave review to a new Cappella Romana CD researched and directed by Alexander Lingas:

This is the all-male version of Cappella Romana, and Alexander Lingas has his Portland-based ensemble going from strength to strength, perfectly judged balances among the melodists and those singing the ison, or lower drone notes, and executing these sometimes hugely challenging chants with razor-sharp precision and flawless unanimity. But what strikes me the most is the superb tonal quality of the group, rich, full, and velvety smooth in a genre that too often gives way to acerbic sonic ineptitude and soloistic grandstanding which gives chant a bad name. The resonance of the Stanford Memorial Church in California is expertly caught, though you might want to boost the volume a little. This disc is, simply, irresistible.

—Steven Ritter

Read the full review here.

Listen to ‘In Procession to the Mount of Olives’ on Soundcloud.

Byzantine Music at Trinity Wall Street

CR at Trinity Wall Street

CR at Trinity Wall Street

On Saturday, 3 January 2015 Reader in Music Alexander Lingas took his vocal ensemble Cappella Romana to Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York for a programme of early and contemporary music from the Greek Orthodox tradition entitled ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas in the Christian East’. This concert was presented by Trinity Wall Street as part of its annual Twelfth Night Festival, a series directed by Julian Wachner which also featured performances by ensembles including the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, The Bishop’s Band, Clarion Music Society, Ensemble Viscera, Gotham Early Music Scene, Grand Harmonie, and a Roomful of Teeth. On this occasion the members of Cappella Romana included recent City Ph.D. graduate Spyridon Antonopoulos, who was a featured soloist in two Byzantine chants. A video of the entire performance is available:

Centre Staff and Student Speak on Byzantine Music in New York

Senior Lecturer Dr Alexander Lingas, who has been spending the autumn term as a Visiting Research Fellow in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, will be joining a distinguished group of scholars offering presentations on ancient and modern facets of Byzantine music in New York City. On Thursday, 29 November he will open a series of lectures at Queens College of the City University of New York with an introduction to the history of music in Byzantium.

On Saturday, 8 December he will present the opening paper of the ‘Mostly Orthros 2012’ conference jointly sponsored by the Axion Estin Foundation and the Sophia Institute at Union Theological Seminary. Dr Lingas will speak on ‘Byzantine Chant in the American Spiritual Marketplace’, after which City University London Ph.D. candidate Spyridon Antonopoulos will turn to the fifteenth century with a paper entitled ‘The Kalophonic Sticherarion of Manuel Chrysaphes: A Case Study in Reception History’.

For conference abstracts and additional information, please see the website of the Axion Estin Foundation.

CUNY Byzantine Chant Flyer