New York’s celebration of Arvo Pärt earlier this year offered an opportunity to explore the spiritual content of the composer’s music, and to discover how the spaces in which music is performed can amplify its emotional power. In this program, neuroscientist Robert Zatorre explains how music can engage the reward system deep in our brains – the same system that responds to food and sex. Architect Steven Holl describes making spaces for music, and shows how music influences his work. Theologian Peter Bouteneff talks about the thread of spirituality that weaves throughout Pärt’s masterpieces.
Spark is hosted by Julie Burstein, author and Peabody Award–winning creator of public radio’s Studio 360.
Recorded June 11, 2014
Among this year’s other winners are the South African playwright Athol Fugard, French painter Martial Raysse, Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone and American architect Steven Holl.
Before Pärt, the UE composers Pierre Boulez, György Ligeti, Alfred Schnittke, Luciano Berio and Steve Reich have received the award.
The winning proposal is conceived as a sequence of interconnected public and private spaces below a large single roof, for which not a single tree of the forest will be felled.
The new building for the Arvo Pärt Centre will open its doors to the public in 2018.
View a gallery of the project on dezeen.
José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Taavi Rõivas, Estonian Prime Minister, recently visited the Arvo Pärt Centre to create opportunities for preserving and researching the creative heritage of Arvo Pärt in his native country.
More photos are available on the website of the European Commission.
Watch a video of the visit here:
David Fennessy’s choral work Letter to Michael will be performed together with excerpts from Arvo Pärt’s Kanon Pokajanen on Friday 20 June at this year’s Pipeworks Festival in Dublin, which starts today and runs until 27 June. Paul Hillier conducts the Chamber Choir Ireland.
The composer about the work:
A few years ago I came across an extraordinary piece of art by a woman named Emma Hauck. She was admitted to a German psychiatric ward about a hundred years ago diagnosed with schizophrenia. Whilst a patient there she produced pages and pages of text – thousands of lines in pencil which were addressed to her husband who had ceased to visit her. She simply wrote the words “Sweetheart Come” over and over again or sometimes just the word “come”. Every page is thick with overlapping text and some are so condensed as to be illegible.
I was deeply moved by these repeated pleas and feel strongly that the desperate passion that can be seen on these pages could only really be expressed with voices. I imagine a dense layering of a simple line; each voice adding to the power of the plea…
David Fennessy: Letter to Michael
for choir (16 voices) a cappella | 7'
Arvo Pärt: Kanon Pokajanen
for mixed choir a cappella
20.06.2014, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin; Chamber Choir Ireland, Paul Hillier
The Pipeworks Festival on Vimeo:
Here are some excerpts from the media coverage on Arvo Pärt’s recent visit to New York, you can read the full texts by clicking on the respective links. Scroll down to view a video recording of the full performance of Kanon Pokajanen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim of the New York Times reviews the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra’s and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s concert on 31.05.2014 at Carnegie Hall:
No other living composer has so fervent a following or such a diverse group of fans. When Mr. Pärt, bearded, frail and smiling shyly, took a bow at the end of the evening – this was his first visit to New York in 30 years – the roar that greeted him seemed unanimous. (Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times, 03.06.2014)
George Grella’s take on the concert at Carnegie Hall (cond. Tõnu Kaljuste):
The music could belong to any era, the ritual of the service it’s built on holds the passage of time in abeyance, the shape moves from meditation to transcendence. (George Grella, New York Classical Review, 01.06.2014)
Arvo Pärt in an interview with Keith Jarrett:
Silence can be both that which is outside of us and that which is inside a person. The silence of our soul, which isn't even affected by external distractions, is actually more crucial but more difficult to achieve. (Keith Jarrett, npr music, 02.06.2014)
Vivien Schweitzer reviews Kanon Pokajanen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur:
The singers sat in a circle, rendering the work with a power and purity of tone that fully revealed its mystical, serene qualities. (Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, 03.06.2014)
Watch the full concert at the Met on npr music:
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of the Republic of Estonia, his wife Evelin Int-Lambot and Arvo and Nora Pärt were present at yesterday’s concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
Alastair Marriott’s upcoming one-act ballet Connectome will première this Saturday in a triple bill evening from the Royal Ballet, featuring Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, Jerome Robbin’s The Concert and Connectome, which is danced to the music of Arvo Pärt, including Fratres, Vater Unser and Silouan’s Song.
Although the première is already sold out, tickets for later dates are still available.
The Independent has attended the rehearsals for Connectome, which is Marriott’s first commission for the Royal Ballet, and interviewed the ballet’s core member Natalia Osipova. Read the full article on The Independent.
There is great art; and there is popular art. Many people believe that there is a stark difference between the two. […] Very few artists are taken seriously in both realms. One of them is the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, 23 May 2014)
Arvo Pärt has come to the East Coast for the first time in 30 years, here’s what The Washington Post has to say about the composer.
Upcoming performances of works by Arvo Pärt.
“Religion guides all the processes in our lives, without us even knowing it,” the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt said in a recent phone interview. “It is true that religion has a very important role in my composition, but how it really works, I am not able to describe.” (
Read the full article on the New York Times.
Pärt will visit the United States from the middle of May until June. The composer will attend several performances of his music and receive honorary degrees from the New England Conservatory in Boston and the St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York.
Furthermore, he will attend the world première of My Heart’s in the Highlands for alto, violin, viola, violoncello and piano. Originally composed for countertenor and organ, the work now ventures beyond a church setting for the first time.
Find out more about the Arvo Pärt Project.
Arvo Pärt: My Heart’s in the Highlands
for alto, string trio and piano | 8'30''
world prem. 29.05.2014, The Phillips Collection, Washington; Iris Oja, a; Harry Traksmann, vln; Laur Eensalu, vla; Leho Karin, vc; Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann, pno
I do not see myself as a “choral” composer, though I have written quite a lot for choir.
It’s Choral Month on Bachtrack, and for that occasion the online magazine (and event finder) has conducted a short interview with Arvo Pärt, whom they revealed as the most performed contemporary composer of 2013.
Read the full article here.
Arvo Pärt composed his Symphony No. 4 ‘Los Angeles’ in 2008 and dedicated it to the imprisoned Russian Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The two of them met for the first time on 4 March 2014 at the performance of the concert given by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. The Estonian Anu Tali conducted the orchestra. A further highlight of the evening was the appearance of the world-famous trumpeter Sergej Nakariakov.
From the Zurich Chamber Orchestra’s press release:
Just after Putin released Mikhail Khodorkovsky in December 2013, Moritz Reissenberger, librarian and member of the artistic department of the orchestra, discovered the personal dedication to Khodorkovsky in Pärt’s score.
“With my work I seek to hold out my hand to the prisoner and with him, to all those who are imprisoned, deprived of their rights, in Russia. I dedicate my 4th Symphony to Mikhail Khodorkovsky and wish him peace of mind, in spite of the situation in which he finds himself, all else is beyond my power. I do not know if Mikhail Khodorkovsky will ever hear my composition. Nevertheless, I hope that my messenger pigeon will one day reach distant Siberia.”
The Ensemble intercontemporain (cond. Matthias Pintscher) will perform Pierre Boulez’ Messagesquisse on 9 February as part of their second Turbulences Week-End. Also on the programme: Wolfgang Rihm’s Tutuguri VI (Kreuze), conducted by Michel Cerutti and performed by students of the Conservatoire de Paris.
A recording of the concert will be broadcast by Ö1 on 9 February at 11:03am. Listen live.
View the full study score of Swan Song.
Arvo Pärt: Swan Song
Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Marc Minkowski
Mozart Week Salzburg; recording of the world première on 29 January, Großes Festspielhaus Salzburg
Ö1 | Listen live
Sunday, 09.02.2014, 11:03
The piece will be performed today at the Brucknerhaus in Linz and on 31 January at the Musikverein, Vienna.
Arvo Pärt: Symphony No. 4 ‘Los Angeles’
for string orchestra, harp, timpani and percussion | 34'
timp, perc(2–4), hp, str
27.01.2014, Brucknerhaus, Linz
31.01.2014, Musikverein, Vienna
Bruckner Orchestra Linz, cond. Dennis Russell Davies