Cappella Romano

Dates: 5 August 2003 at 2.30pm
: Holy Rosary Cathedral

Reviewer: Patricia Fleming







Condutor: Alexander Lingas

A group of thirteen men and women singers from Oregon, who constitute The Capella Romana, created a delightful musical respite from the hustle, bustle, (and heat) of downtown Vancouver today at the Holy Rosary Cathedral at Dunsmuir and Richards. Their performance, a selection of sacred and Byzantine music, was the first in a series of four concerts to be held at the Cathedral during Festival Vancouver which runs from August 4 – 17th.

A packed house, at this 2:30 pm event, eagerly awaited the opening piece, a 13th century Byzantine chant To You Our Leader. The male singers congregated at the altar, and the female singers were upstairs in the balcony, thus creating a lovely harmonious echo throughout the Cathedral. They followed with Lament for the Fall of Constantinople, which had a very “eastern” feel and was mesmerizing, almost mantra-like. Next came a very short, but gloriously harmonious duet, of a 15th century post-Byzantine Chant for Communion for Mid-Pentecost.

The fourth piece, a 17th century Byzantine polyphony called Among the Splendours of Your Saints was, for me, the highlight of the concert. Beautiful harmonies, soft, gentle and reverential. A lilting piece of very uplifting music.

These pieces, with mostly all male voices through to the intermission, transported me to an ancient monastery in Europe or perhaps Turkey and St. Sophia’s in Istanbul.

Following the intermission the Capella opened the Modern Choral Tradition portion of their concert with a glorious Royal Hymm from the mid 19th century. Ringing soprano solos followed by We PraiseYou by Alexandros Kantakouzenos (19th century) a languid, melodic gentle piece. The rest of the program was a mixture of an all-soprano piece two further nineteen century pieces and the introduction of Michael Adamis (b.1929) Radiant Cloud – a North American premiere.

The concert was a delightful afternoon journey to a different time and place. Mention also must be made of the eager and enthusiastic volunteers who kept a well stocked table of merchandise available to patrons. The very attractive, butterfly-intensive, Festival Vancouver tee-shirts, and a number of Festival-related items were on sale both outside the Cathedral and in the foyer.

© 2003, Patricia Fleming