Arvo Pärt’s concerts at the Met Museum feature music celebrating the new St. Nicholas at Ground Zero



NEW YORK – The Temple of Dendur was the setting for the haunting world premiere of O Saint-Père Nicolas, commissioned by Nektarios S. Antoniou for the Schola Cantorum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Created by revered Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the work celebrates the dedication of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas and the National Shrine at Ground Zero.

The Arvo Pärt Tribute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture, presented a selection of masterpieces from the composer’s seven-decade career, curated by Antoniou and the director of the Experiential Orchestra, Grammy Award-winning James Blachly, for The Treasury NYC, in creative dialogue with the composer himself through the Arvo Pärt Center. The concerts took place on October 31 and November 1.

The Temple of Dendur was the setting for the haunting world premiere of Saint Father Nicholas by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, commissioned by Nektarios S. Antoniou for the Schola Cantorum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Courtesy Greece USA

Arvo Pärt is a composer whose creative output has dramatically changed the way we understand the nature of music. In 1976 he created a unique musical language called tintinnabuli which reached a large audience of listeners and defined his work. There is no composition school that follows Pärt, nor does he teach; nevertheless, much of contemporary music has been influenced by his tintinnabuli compositions. Pärt was born on September 11, 1935 in Paide, Estonia. After studying in Heino Eller’s composition class at the Tallinn State Conservatory, he worked as a sound engineer for Estonian radio. Since the late 1960s, Pärt has been a freelance composer. The avant-garde spirit of Pärt’s early works as well as the religious aspect of the music he composed in the 1970s led to controversial reviews and confrontations with Soviet officials. In 1980, Arvo Pärt and his family were forced to emigrate, first to Vienna and then to Berlin, where they remained for almost 30 years. 1984 marks the beginning of his creative collaboration with distinguished CD label ECM Records and producer Manfred Eicher, and the first recording of Tabula rasa. Since then his music has been performed and recorded by the best orchestras and performers of our time. In 2010, Pärt returned to Estonia where he resides today.

Arvo Pärt first gained worldwide recognition in the 1960s, when he became one of the leading figures of the so-called Soviet avant-garde. Several important modernist composition techniques entered the Estonian music scene through the works of Pärt, including Nekrolog, Perpetuum mobile and Pro et contra. His dramatic collage Credo (1968) marked a turning point in his work as well as in his life, with Pärt withdrawing and renouncing the techniques and means of expression used until now.

Pärt’s quest for his own musical voice led him into a creative crisis that lasted for eight years. During these years he joined the Orthodox Church and studied Gregorian Chant, Notre Dame School, and classical vocal polyphony. In 1976, Pärt emerged with a very original new musical language which he called tintinnabuli (tintinnabulum being Latin for ‘little bell’). The first tintinnabuli piece, Für Alina, for piano (1976) was soon followed by works such as Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten (1977), Fratres (1977), Tabula rasa (1977), Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) and many others. ‘others. . Pärt’s complete work is rich and versatile, comprising numerous large-scale compositions for choir and orchestra, four symphonies and works for soloists and orchestra, as well as numerous pieces for choir and chamber music. The majority of his works are based on liturgical texts and prayers, such as Passio (1982), Te Deum (1985), Miserere (1989/92), Kanon pokajanen (1997) and Adam’s Lament (2010).

Program Curator Nektarios Antoniou is the Director of Culture of the National Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, President of the Treasury NYC, which organizes and produces the annual “Icons of Sounds” concert series at the Historic Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. and executive director of the Axion Estin Foundation, best known for presenting Byzantine Pop-Ups at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. As founder and artistic director of the Schola Cantorum, he presented and recorded several programs, including the Grammy nominated “A Story of the City: Constantinople-Istanbul” for Dunyainc, the Boston-based musical collective, of which he is founding member and fellow leader of the ensemble. For a decade he served under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Education, teaching, researching and organizing programs for the Conservatory of Northern Greece, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Mount Center Athos and the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conservatory. At Yale University, he served as the music editor for Yale Palimpsest magazine, organized the music installations for the Yale Art Gallery alternative audio guide, presented and purchased the Greek Art Studio from been to Yale ISM. He is the recipient of two consecutive Yale Institute of Sacred Music Director’s Awards from Margot Fassler, Director of Yale ISM and President Emeritus of the Medieval Academy of America. He was hired by BSO President and Harvard Professor Dr Nicholas Zervas to reconstruct, edit and translate the oldest known manuscript of the autograph notes of the legendary NYS Maestro Dimitri Mitropoulos on the History of Musical Morphology which was released by Livanis in 2011. Among his most famous contributions are his installations voice as Principal Cantor and Director of his Schola Cantorum for the famous UCLA / USC Soundscapes of Byzantine Thessaloniki project “Of Bodies and Spirits”. Nektarios is a member of the famous Beyond Music organization led by Tina Turner. Production credits include music for award-winning documentaries and films.

The Temple of Dendur was the setting for the haunting world premiere of Saint Father Nicholas by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, commissioned by Nektarios S. Antoniou for the Schola Cantorum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Courtesy Greece USA

Founded by Director Sozita Goudouna, Greece in the United States is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization launched under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture. Created with an intentionally global reach that promotes knowledge of contemporary and ancient Greek culture while fostering international cultural cooperation, experimentation and social engagement, Greece’s extensive programming in the United States includes artist projects and curators, residencies, educational and green initiatives and a commitment to cultivating a sane culture of innovation and thought leadership. The organization is dedicated to delivering innovative and unique education and art programs that explore the ever-changing diversity and richness of Greek and Cypriot cultures. Greece in the United States seeks to generate new thinking about the arts and promote intercultural dialogue through partnerships and new creative platforms by fostering an international exchange of practices and knowledge in the arts – visual and sound arts , dance, architecture, theater – research on the methods used in conservation and performing practices and the investigation of the points of intersection between the arts, science and the public sphere through interventions, collective actions , educational programs and publications.

More information is available online: https://bit.ly/3Flj4AJ.


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