Arvo Pärt Project Creates Media Splash and Campus Buzz


 Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt

abrielle Kushlan – May 2014 -SVOTS

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After years of hard work, the Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir’s Seminary—headed by Associate Professor of Systematic Theology Dr. Peter Bouteneff and Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music Dr. Nicholas Reeves—is making a big splash both in major media, and on campus. In anticipation of the events taking place in late May and early June, in Carnegie Hall and other venues, articles about the concerts have appeared online in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In addition, the Times will be publishing a print article in its Arts & Entertainment section on Sunday May 18, 2014.

The series of concerts and panel discussions focused on Pärt’s work is bringing the composer himself to New York for the first time since 1984. To increase awareness of the Project and prepare the seminary community for the upcoming concerts, Dr. Bouteneff and Dr. Reeves hosted a campus presentation on May 4 which focused on the connection between Maestro Pärt’s music and his faith.

The evening opened with a performance of Arvo Pärt’s hymn Bogoroditce Djevo (Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos), performed by the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chorale. Dr. Reeves then presented the history of the Arvo Pärt Project, expressing his enthusiasm at the success of the collaboration between the composer and St. Vladimir’s, which among other things has shed new light on the spiritual sources of Pärt’s work.

An exploration of the universally-felt spiritual force of Pärt’s music and its roots in his Orthodox Christian faith followed. Dr. Bouteneff illustrated the “two voices” (melody and triad, suffering and consolation) of Pärt’s “tintinnabuli” compositional method, as Dr. Reeves played Für Alina, Pärt’s first piece using this original technique. Assistant Professor of Music at Amherst College Dr. Jeffers Engelhardt then offered a thought-provoking meditation on whether the “tintinnabuli” method is transferrable, or if it is inseparable from, and necessarily tied to, his personal religious and ethical practice.

Among the other speakers were ECM Records representatives Sarah Humphries and Tina Pelikan, who spoke on the long relationship of Arvo Pärt with ECM records and their excitement about the project. Finally, St. Vladimir’s Trustee Anne Glynn Mackoul announced that thanks to generous gifts, the Board of Trustees would be able to make it possible for all seminarians and their spouses to attend the May 31st Carnegie Hall concert.

Gabrielle Kushlan is a second-year M.A. student. Intrigued by the collaboration between St. Vladimir’s and the mythic Estonian composer, she attended Dr. Bouteneff’s public course “The Music and Faith of Arvo Pärt” in Spring 2013, and is looking forward to the upcoming concert series.