Arvo Pärt has occupied himself with the life and work of St Nicholas of Myra for many years, repeatedly discovering references to him during his own work. Pärt’s first expression of this interest was his 1998 choral work Triodion. Encouraged by the festival Le Voci dell’Anima in Bari, where Nicholas’ relics lie, Pärt wrote Alleluia-Tropus for choir and 8 violoncellos.
Nicholas has a special position amongst the saints, as he is a symbol not just in Christian beliefs, and it is from Bari that the international popularity of St Nicholas spread. Pärt uses a text from the Christian liturgy dedicated to St Nicholas. The text is sung in Church Slavonic.
The choir is supported by 8 violoncellos in the prayers and at times is doubled by them.