Coming soon: Cappella Romana, “Richard Toensing: Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ”

I was treated this morning to a sneak preview of yet another new Cappella Romana recording. (I could in theory link to it, but for various reasons I don’t know if the link is to be made public at this time.) This one is of a setting of St. Romanos the Melodist’s Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ by contemporary American composer Richard Toensing, who also happens to be Orthodox himself (much like my friend John Muehleisen) and is at, I believe, St. Luke’s Orthodox Church (Antiochian) in Lafayette, Colorado. The CD will be out in October; I am told a review copy is coming my way, and as soon as I’m able I’ll post something (and possibly more; watch this space for details).

Looking forward to this one; I’ve met Dr. Toensing once and sung one of his settings of the Divine Liturgy, and what the press release says about his work being intended to “bridge the gap between Byzantine and American hymnody” is something I find very intriguing. My own setting of “O gladsome light” is an initial experiment in that direction, although from a monophonic perspective (which is where I personally believe we have to begin — the Western harmonic system didn’t just spring fully-grown from the head of Bach, but from centuries of development starting with monophonic melodies as starting points). I’m continuing to explore this idea; as I have things to share (maybe even recordings!) I’ll post them.

Meanwhile — if the samples I heard today are any indication, we’re in for another treat. I’ll keep you posted.

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