A Celebration of Arvo Pärt

Arvo Part

Arvo Pärt

This September marks the 75th birthday of Arvo Pärt, and to honor this esteemed Estonian composer, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales is offering a major celebration of his work. SDG has been invited to co-sponsor the 2010 Festival in what will be the most extensive celebration in Great Britain, programming no fewer than 14 of his compositions during the space of a week. A highlight of the Festival—with an appearance by the composer himself—will be the September 9, 2010, premiere of In Spe (“In Hope”), to be performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Tõnu Kaljuste conducting, at the BBC Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay.

Wales Millennium Centre

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Wales,
where the premiere of Arvo Pärt’s
In Spe
will be performed.
(Photo: Alex Skibinski)

When John Metcalf, Artistic Director of the Festival, approached Pärt about a new work, Pärt chose to reset his An den Wessern Zu Babel (“By the Waters of Babylon”—originally for chorus and instrumental ensemble) in a new rendering for brass quintet and string orchestra he titled In Spe.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, for there they that carried us away captive required of us a song: and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion! How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. (Psalm 137)

These lines from Psalm 137 originally inspired Pärt to write a choral “Kyrie Eleison.” If you listen to the clip [click on the Audio Excerpts play button] of this An den Wessern on his publisher’s website, you’ll hear only the three vowels of the “Kyrie Eleison”—i, e, o—but you’ll certainly get a taste of the haunting beauty of this work.

On the evening of September 9th, SDG Composer-in-Association Peter Bannister, has been invited to give a pre-concert talk on "Arvo Pärt at 75." SDG is proud to be a part of this celebration of Arvo Pärt and, in the words of Peter Bannister, “to contribute to the renaissance of sacred music in a world which arguably needs it more than ever.” Click here for further reflections from Peter Bannister on the Vale of Glamorgan Festival's celebration of Arvo Pärt.

“I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. . . . Silence is the pause in me when I am near to God.”
—Arvo Pärt

World Premiere
September 2010
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor
2010 Vale of Glamorgan Festival
BBC Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre
Cardiff Bay, Wales