Pärt’s first collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic resulted from the premiere performance of his Fourth Symphony, subtitled “Los Angeles,” in 2009. Written for string orchestra, harp, timpani and percussion, the symphony is often played around the world and is available from ECM on CD.
When the orchestra and its new chief conductor Gustavo Dudamel again invited Pärt to compose a piece, he recalled the orchestra’s particular string sound, its wealth of colour and its enormous dynamic breadth and the idea spontaneously came to arrange a purely a capella work from 1988, the Seven Magnificat Antiphons (also known in English as Greater Antiphons), for string orchestra. The work’s seven sections correspond to the seven verses, each of which begins with an invocation.
Pärt rearranged the vocal score and created a purely instrumental version; thus the work appears sonically in a completely new light, while its context rises to another artistic level.