Arvo Pärt Project at St Vladimir’s Seminary

Arvo Pärt’s body of work spans hundreds of CDs, sets the mood for major motion pictures, and fills concert halls across the globe. Yet he is more than a significant cultural figure. Listeners who know his music don’t just enjoy it, they revere it, sensing its

innate transcendence. Spiritually rooted in the Orthodox Christian tradition, Pärt’s creations have a universal reach. As Arthur Lubow wrote in the New York Times, “His compositions resonate profoundly for the unconverted as well as the faithful.”


In December 2011, three St. Vladimir’s Seminary faculty members traveled to Estonia to meet with this contemporary musical genius. An instant bond developed in the group through its solidarity of purpose and a common under- standing of the spirituality of his music. Pärt sees in St. Vladimir’s a leading Orthodox Christian institution in the West, one that is committed to the engagement with fine art and contemporary culture. As such, he has identified it as uniquely qualified to elucidate the intangible spiritual fabric so tightly woven into his musical tapestry.

The composer commented at a subsequent visit that he could not speak with others as he speaks with us at SVS: “You are our friends, and you are our hope. [You are] a spiritual theological roof, without which it is impossible to explain ideas which are at the ground of my music.”

In recognition of the impact Pärt’s spiritually-infused work has had on generations of music lovers, the Board of Trustees and the faculty of the seminary will award the composer the Doctorate of Sacred Music honoris causa in May 2014. For his own sign of good will, Pärt has allowed the seminary unprecedented access to his fiercely protected private life. The possibilities for cultural growth and spiritual enlightenment this union offers are palpable.

The Arvo Pärt Project represents a close asso- ciation between the seminary, Arvo Pärt, and the International Arvo Pärt Centre – an extensive archive and information center located outside Tallinn, Estonia.

The three major components of this project are:

• A definitive U.S. concert tour.

• A documentary project offering an unprecedented

journey into the spiritual foundation of his work.

• A lasting collaboration between St Vladimir’s Seminary and the International Arvo Pärt Centre.


St. Vladimir’s Seminary is working with Arvo Pärt and his most trusted conductor Tõnu Kaljuste to compile a select repertoire of his most definitive and sublime compositions. Hand-picked by Pärt to breathe life into his work is the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir – two world-class ensembles that have extensive experience with Pärt’s oeuvre.

The flagship concert event will take place in Carnegie Hall with Pärt himself in attendance, a very rare occurrence. Additional venues are currently being discussed in Boston, Washington D.C., Cleveland, and other cities.

Preparatory lectures and radio appearances by Dr. Peter Bouteneff, an SVS faculty member with degrees in music and theology, will detail the spiritual foundations of Pärt’s signature compositional style, deepening the appreciation of the composer’s work and raising awareness for St. Vladimir’s Seminary.


Arvo Pärt and his wife Nora are looking to St. Vladimir’s Dr. Bouteneff to help distill the composer’s thoughts on the impetus behind his music. Bouteneff, who is steeped in Pärt’s repertoire and fluent in Russian, will interpret the musician’s innermost spiritual journey as well as his secular odyssey of exile and suffering. The Arvo Pärt Centre, a government-sponsored archive and study center in Estonia, holds countless pages of personal notebooks preserved over several decades, which provide a yet unexplored key to the life and experience of the iconic composer. Pärt will work alongside Bouteneff to piece the jottings together into a complete picture of the spirit behind beautiful music. Their sessions will be filmed, forming the heart of a documentary and publication project under St Vladimir’s auspices that will delve into previously unexplored depths of Pärt’s work.

The potential significance of this project for contemporary culture would be difficult to overestimate. This documentary will be of broadcast quality and available to a wide audience. Its potential significance for contemporary culture would be difficult to overestimate. Possible broadcasts on PBS and cable networks worldwide offer an opportunity to increase exposure for Pärt’s music and St. Vladimir’s Seminary.



• Academic conferences

• Lecture series

• Student exchanges

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