About Cappella Romana
Cappella Romana has become identified with its specialty in Eastern Orthodox vocal traditions, both Byzantine and Slavic. The group has also commissioned virtuoso vocal music from several contemporary composers.
Cappella Romana was formed in 1991 in Portland, Oregon, and continues to be based there. Its conductor is Alexander Lingas, a researcher from City University, London, in the U.K., specializing in Byzantine music. The name Cappella Romana refers not simply to the city of Rome, but to the Greek concept of the ecumene, the inhabited world, centered on Rome. The ecumene included not only western European Roman lands, but also the Byzantine Empire and the Slavic realm of the Orthodox church. Cappella Romana has emphasized mastery of the original languages of music from the Eastern Orthodox world, including Koine Greek and Old Church Slavonic, but has also released the album Lay Aside All Earthly Cares: Orthodox Choral Works in English. The choir collaborates in multimedia presentations with museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Some of these collaborations have resulted in recordings, which have appeared on the group's own label, as well as on Gothic Records, Gagliano, and other small labels.
Cappella Romana has hosted numerous guest artists, from both the Orthodox and the Western worlds, including conductor Paul Hillier. In addition to performing music of ancient traditions, it has commissioned new works from such composers as Ioannis Arvanitis, Stelios Kontakiotis, and Vladimir Morosan; its 2002 performance of Ivan Moody's Passion and Resurrection was critically acclaimed. Cappella Romana's discography comprises some 20 albums in all. The group spent some years researching the acoustics of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, a massive Orthodox cathedral that became a mosque under the Ottoman Empire, and then a museum from 1935 until it was converted back to Islamic administration by Turkey in 2020. Those efforts resulted in the 2019 recording Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia, made in the U.S. using a digital re-creation of the Hagia Sophia space. ~ James Manheim