Category Archives: In the press

The Middle East in London Magazine Features City Staff and Student

The Middle East in London magazine is published five times a year by the London Middle East Institute at the School or Oriental and African Studies. The February/March 2016 issue is a special issue on Iranian music and features articles by City lecturer Dr Laudan Nooshin and PhD student Roya Arab, as well as a review of Laudan’s 2015 book Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity (Ashgate Press) by Stefan Williamson Fa.

Laudan’s article ‘Sounding the City: Tehran’s Contemporary Soundscapes’ is based on her recent field trip to Iran in August/ September 2015 and explores the relationship between sound and the urban environment as a means of understanding individuals’ engagement with the sensory sound-worlds that they inhabit. Roya’s article – ‘Swaying to Persian and Middle Eastern Tunes in London’ – offers a snapshot of Iranian and Middle Eastern music in London.

Pdfs of the two articles and book review are available below.

Nooshin, MEIL article Jan 2016

Roya Arab Middle East in London Magazine Article (Jan 2016)

Review of Laudan Nooshin, Iranian Classical Music, MEIL Jan 2016

Laudan Nooshin Presents WOMEX 2015 Professional Excellence Award in Budapest

Laudan Nooshin was in Budapest last week to present the 2015 WOMEX Professional Excellence Award to Iranian music producer Ramin Sadighi. Sadighi set up the Hermes record label in 1999 and has since produced some of the most innovative and boundary-breaking music in Iran. WOMEX is the annual world music industry exposition which this year was held in Budapest from 21st to 25th October and attended by over 2,500 artists, producers, promoters, journalists and others involved in the world music industry.

Laudan chaired a Q&A session with Ramin on 24th October and presented his award at the closing ceremony. Here is an extract from her speech:

“I am deeply honoured and humbled to be presenting the 2015 WOMEX Professional Excellence Award to Mr Ramin Sadighi. I believe that WOMEX has shown great foresight in giving this award to a man who – I think it is no exaggeration to say – has changed the face of music production in Iran, setting new standards, challenging stereotypes and opening new musical spaces.

As someone who has been involved with Iranian music for more than 30 years, I am grateful for this opportunity to publicly thank Ramin – and Hermes, the label that he founded 16 years ago. And, of course, this award is also intended to recognise all of those working in the independent music sector in Iran, and to pay tribute to their amazing resilience and creativity. And, given the overwhelmingly negative media representations of Iran, it’s all the more important to have such moments of recognition.

When I think of Hermes, four words come to mind: Vision. Quality. Integrity. Trust.

Hermes’ work is visionary and boundary-breaking. Above all, it has provided a space for supporting, promoting the work of, and creating an audience for music which crosses boundaries of many kinds, musical and cultural.

Hermes has set new standards of quality for music production in Iran, from the music itself, the presentation of albums, the many concerts at home and abroad – in particular bringing musicians to Iran; and numerous events such as discussion and listening sessions and film screenings. Hermes is much more than a record company – it has created a community around this music.”

Womex 2015 Awards Ceremony Ramin Sadighi by Yannis Psathas 20151025_123859_resized IMG_3044  IMG_2943

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.

Alex de Lacey featured in Songlines magazine

ProfilepicAlexdeLaceyThis month’s issue of Songlines magazine (#108) featured one of our Masters student’s guide to the world’s best festivals. Following a successful internship for Songlines in 2013, Alex de Lacey has been regularly contributing reviews and columns to the publication, but this is his first full feature to be published. It builds upon our strong relationship with the highly regarded world music magazine, with many of our students completing internships with them as part of our Professional Placement programmes offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

You can purchase the new issue from participating retailers or direct from the Songlines website:

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