Double celebration of top composer
(14 October 2003)
The distinguished international composer Arvo Pärt, whose choral and orchestral works have gained him a large audience beyond the usual confines of new music, is to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Durham.
The DMus will be conferred on Arvo Pärt by the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Kenneth Calman at a special honorary degree ceremony which will take place in the Tunstall Chapel at Durham Castle on Wednesday 15 October.
It’s a double celebration as a concert featuring music by Pärt, which includes the world première of a new work commissioned by the Hilliard Ensemble, takes place at Durham Cathedral that evening.
Some eighteen years after they first met, the Hilliards will première the first new piece specially written by Pärt for their distinctive 4 voice a cappella line-up. The composer describes Most Holy Mother of God as a prayer that ordinary people might use, a way of renewing one’s daily acquaintance with God, perhaps. The text is a single exhortation that can be found in both Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, and it is repeated like a mantra many times throughout the piece, mostly very quietly but with a final impassioned plea at the end.
Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor said, “We are delighted to welcome Arvo Pärt into our family of honorary graduates and look forward to celebrating his expertise and accomplishments”.
Pärt has visited Durham on a number of occasions, most recently in 1998 when his work was last performed at the Cathedral.
The Dean of Durham, The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, said: “Arvo Pärt is one of the most distinguished composers of our time, whose contribution to contemporary sacred music is not only distinctive but, I believe, enduring. This honour is richly deserved, and I am delighted that he will be present in the Cathedral for the première of his new work.”
The concert has been organised by the University’s Music Dept at part of the ambitious MUSICON concert season. Tickets for the concert are available in advance at Tourist Information Centre, Durham or on the evening at the Cathedral door. The Concert commences at 7.30 p.m.
For more information on this press release and photo opportunities on Wednesday 15 October, please call Jan Cawood, Public Relations Officer, University of Durham tel: 0191-334-0018
DMus - Arvo Pärt
- celebrated composer
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has become a distinctive voice in contemporary music. His choral and orchestral works have gained him a large audience beyond the usual confines of new music, including one of his most important works the St John's Passion which was performed in Durham Cathedral in 1988.
He has visited Durham on a number of occasions, most recently in 1998 with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Talinn Chamber Orchestra together with the Hilliard Ensemble performing his works Litany and Trisagion as part of the University’s Musicon concert series.
Arvo Pärt has received several awards and honours during his career including honorary membership of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Honorary Doctorates from all over the world including Sydney University, Australia; several Grammy nominations and this year, a Classical Brit Award for Orient & Occident in the category of Contemporary Music Award.