A World Apärt: 24-Hour Arvo Pärt Marathon

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Composer Arvo Pärt in a recording session Composer Arvo Pärt in a recording session (Peter Adamik/NPR Music)

On Sept. 11, celebrate the 80th birthday of Arvo Pärt with a repeat stream of A World Apärt: a 24-hour sonic survey of the music of one of the most revolutionary voices of the 21st century. Hosted by Helga Davis (Einstein on the Beach) with a playlist compiled by noted Pärt scholar Toomas Siitan, A World Apärt offers a complete aural immersion into musical corners both known and obscure of the iconic Estonian.

This year, the marathon culminates with a 7 pm live webcast of musicians from the New Juilliard Ensemble performing chamber works - including Fratres, Spiegel im Spiegel and Wallfarhtslied - at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's iconic Temple of Dendur gallery. Helga Davis hosts. 

Born in Paide, Estonia, Pärt has been the world's most performed living composer since 2011 with almost 300 recordings available in the U.S. alone. He's been interviewed by Bjork; and his music has been used in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson, Gus van Sant, Michael Mann and many more. He's obtained a prominence in popular culture reserved normally for pop musicians, after coming first to the attention of Western audiences in 1984 with the release of the breakthrough album Tabula Rasa on the ECM label, and all this as a composer known primarily for religious choral works. 

Pärt's current and highly original musical language, tintinnabuli (Latin for 'little bell'), first took shape with the 1976 solo piano piece, Für Alina, and followed earlier periods of experimentation with neoclassical piano music, 12-tone writing, collage techniques and chance music. Pärt's tinntinnabuli is characterized by intense emotional content in an intimate and uncluttered style (which belies its intricate organization schemes), and by its blend of simplicity and religious content. 

Fellow composers have cited him as an influence, whether for his music (and that less notes could actually mean more music), or for his bravery in forging a unique, powerful and spiritual voice in the face of Soviet restrictions. 

A World Apärt features a broad, 12-hour swathe of performances by his leading interpreters, including conductors Paul Hillier, Tõnu Kaljuste, Paavo Järvi, Dennis Russell Davies and Stephen Layton; ensembles Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Theatre of Voices, Hilliard Ensemble, Polyphony and Latvian Radio Choir; soloists Alexei Lubimov, Gidon Kremer, and many more. 

A World Apärt originally streamed on Sept. 24, 2014 as part of Q2 Music's ongoing 24 on the 24th marathon series of 24-hour celebrations of a particular corner of today's dynamic classical music scene on the 24th of each month.

Hosted by:

Helga Davis

Produced by:

Alex Ambrose


Toomas Siitan


More in:

Comments [32]

@Nancy Cadet from Fort Greene

Thanks for your comments and for supporting the station as a member! Your support allows us to keep bringing you these 24-hour marathons and 24/7 exploration of new music.

As for terrestrial radio, Q2 Music is actually broadcast over HD (Hybrid-Digital) Radio. You can access it on the same frequency as WQXR, 105.9 FM, but via the secondary stream of WQXR-2.

Any questions, please feel free to email us at q2@wqxr.org.

Sep. 16 2015 09:53 AM
Frank from UWS

With all of the incessant repetition on WQXR these days, it was nice to have this marathon yesterday. Sometimes I feel that Q2 is too much a station for the "cool kids" but Part's music has such broad appeal (and yet, sophistication) that anyone with an open mind can enjoy it.

Sep. 12 2015 10:15 AM
Michael from Edgewood, WA

Thank you for the Arvo Part marathon. I had it on for about 12 hours continuously. My first exposure to Part was on an LP I bought on a whim at a record store in the 1980s, with Tabula Rasa as the featured track.

I look forward to future marathons like this.

Sep. 12 2015 12:17 AM
Nancy Cadet from Fort Greene

I first heard Arvo Pärt's music on John Schaefer 's NewSounds program on WNYC. I'm so glad we have Q2 music now. I'm a member. Tonight is the first time I've heard De Profundis and other compositions.
I love the marathons . I always learn something new.
I just wish Q2 was broadcast on terrestrial radio too. I'm not always able to stream the shows, and Q2 would reach more people. I often recommend it.

Sep. 11 2015 10:18 PM
Miguel Huarcaya from Lima, Perú

I think that I started listening to Pärt after discovering Gorecki's Symphony, No. 3.
After listening to Spiegel im spiegel, so beautiful in its simplicity, I was hooked.

Sep. 11 2015 05:54 PM
Brad from Vancouver, BC

I discovered Arvo Pärt while listening to a "Gregorian chant" playlist on Pandora back in my school days. Mystic minimalism has since become a favourite genre of mine, and I was delighted to hear some of Pärt's music in the soundtrack for the film, There Will Be Blood.

Sep. 11 2015 05:52 PM
reder01 from Salt Lake City

I wish my local "classical" station KBYU-FM in Salt Lake City would play Arvo Part. No, KBYU avoids what its manager calls "edgy" music. Only the favorite 50, recommended by some radio programming "expert."

Arvo Part's music is mysterious, emotional, and magical. Thanks, Q2, for devoting a whole day to Part's music.

Sep. 11 2015 05:51 PM
Leslie from Belfast, Maine

I got a letter , yesterday, from a friend who said his computer is tuned to Q2 every day all day. He loves it.

I pick and choose, but today you are incredible! Arvo Pärt all day and your just played my favorite Spiegel im Spegiel.

Thank you.

Sep. 11 2015 05:50 PM
Scott Bradley from Springfield, Missouri

Don't forget about Terry Malick using "Annum Per Annum" at the beginning of THE THIN RED LINE.

Sep. 11 2015 04:13 PM
Kate from Portland, OR

I am beyond cranky I'm not in NY for this concert. I love Arvo Part since I first heard "Summa for Strings". His Cantus for Benjamin Britten touches a nerve of grief for those I've lost too. His work is so beautiful.

Sep. 11 2015 02:01 PM
Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

I adore Part. But you know "Sarah Was Ninety Years Old"? I'm going to be older than that by the time it's over.

Sep. 11 2015 12:35 PM

I've been a huge fan for 20 years. I think the first piece I heard was the original version of Fratres. For me, Mr. Pärt is the most (and perhaps the only) important composer since at least the 19th century. He brings to serious music the spirituality, nobility and beauty which somehow went out of fashion early in the 20th century. His unique blend of ancient and modern, sound and technique, simply transcends time. It is some of the most spiritually nourishing music ever written.

Many thanks for presenting this program - it's outstanding.

Sep. 11 2015 11:05 AM
Susan from Hudson Valley

Thank you so much for this!! I am a complete Part neophyte but I am enjoying this immensely. After decades of thinking I hated modern music, I am slowly expanding my 20th Century horizons. :o)

Sep. 11 2015 10:28 AM
Ira Grossman from DC

I got hooked on Part after first hearing Passio in the early '90's. I heard it on a business trip and went into a record store (remember those?) and bought the CD. What struck me was that after first listening to a 1 hour long piece I immediately wanted to hear it again. It was truly transcendent. I have now have several of his pieces.

There was an Estonian woman in my graduate school who was constantly talking about their culture, totally unknown to Americans. After discovering Part I sought her out and she said he was a favorite of hers as well.

Thanks Q2 for this treat.

Sep. 11 2015 09:26 AM
gary from san francisco

If anyone recalls what was the choral piece which Helga Davis introduced by explaining the composer's tintinnabulationi vision : please email me < gary [dot] gach [at] gmail [dot] com > or post it here. Thank you! ( I missed the name the first time -- & it was the point at which the evening version cut off -- & the precise playlisting stops after Stabat Mater ) thnx

All in all it was a sterling event. Commentary was deft & impeccable, as was the mellifuous apt commentator ( & Mr McKnight even present ) & despite the enormity depth & intense subtlety of the body of work selections were on the dime. The recital was awesome. And where else can music lovers immerse in the totality of a composer's lifeworks, be it Bach or Part?

Thank you, one and all

Jun. 03 2014 09:44 AM

The musicians -- especially the singers -- are extraordinary as well. Their sonority breathes such exquisite life into Pärt's works.

Jun. 02 2014 08:56 PM
Flora from Upper West Side

I heard Arvo Part's "Adam's Lament" on May 31, 2014 at Carnegie. It moved me and the audience beyond tears. There was an amazingly polite mob scrum for the few CDs they had for sale. It's relatively new piece--2009. The text, by St. Silouthian, a near contemporary (1863-1936?), was said by the program to be about "Adam's fall from grace and his grief at losing God" --and that rubric is amazingly similar in genre to how the Song of Solomon is said by the religious to be about the love of Christ for the Church. That is to say, it expresses everything a human being can feel about human, carnal love and its deepest joys that keep evil at bay, and the desolation of when we lose it. St. Silouthian, we hardly knew ye. Be with us now.

Jun. 02 2014 08:31 PM
Lis from California

Although I am an atheist, Arvo Part's music touches me in a way no other music has. Thank you for this marathon. It is magnificent. My regret is that I cannot come to New York for the performances. I adore this music.

Jun. 02 2014 03:13 PM
Jerome from New York, New York

Maybe this is low hanging fruit, but why would you not call this marathon a Pärty?

Jun. 02 2014 12:14 PM
Richard from Astana, Kazakhstan

What time on June 2 does the replay of the Arvo Part marathon start?

Jun. 01 2014 11:39 PM

@Richard from Astana, Kazakhstan

You can catch an encore presentation of the marathon this coming Monday, June 2. The same day as our live webcast at 7 pm from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir singing Part's Kanon Pokajanen.

Details on the webcast here: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/listen-live-arvo-p...

May. 28 2014 03:39 PM
Richard from Astana, Kazakhstan

Well, I am bummed! cause it seems I caught only the tail end of this. I LOVE his music. Any chance you will re-stream the marathon?

May. 25 2014 10:29 AM

I was not familiar with Part but a friend said he was listening and so I tuned in earlier today. I was unexpectedly pulled into the music with it's haunting, airy direction and texture.
Thank-you Helga, you are a wonderful guide.

May. 24 2014 09:51 PM
SJohnson from New Mexico

Thank you so much for this marathon. I can say as an atheist that I find Part's religious choral music exquisitely moving. He goes far deeper than religion to the deepest expressions of our humanity.

May. 24 2014 09:07 PM
Mirra Meylakh from Boston, MA

Thank you so much for Arvo Part marathon. I am at the same age as Arvo Part himself and I adore his music from young ages. But listening his music all day long take me to higher level of penetration of musical and spiritual depth of Part's music. He is genius.

May. 24 2014 08:56 PM

I've been a huge fan of Arvo since college; so much so, in fact, that I wrote a so-called 'passion essay' as my statement of purpose for law schools in the hours between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. You can read it here, as I posted it yesterday. https://medium.com/p/62a4e4b34ed4

May. 24 2014 08:22 PM
Bob McCauley from Houston, TX

This is a great immersion in Part's music - however - the playlist function breaking down the segments does NOT seem to be working. A big problem and a failing in this undertaking...

May. 24 2014 07:42 PM

I love Arvo Part's music, along with John (Coolidge) Adams, Gavin Bryars, etc. I first heard Arvo Part on Nimet's Overnight Music, specifically Spiegel im Spiegel. I am looking for Harp arrangements of their pieces, also thinking of doing one myself for Spiegel im Spiegel (both parts).

May. 24 2014 05:59 PM
Cecilia from Houston

My dad introduced me to this artist's music and I haven't disliked his music since.

May. 24 2014 05:47 PM
james hanbury

i have already turned to another station twice due to the announcer's habit
of droning on endlessly on some idiot topic. i did not contribute to this station to hear ms davis rant. get rid of her.

May. 24 2014 12:44 PM
Mary Ann Willoughby from NYC

I wanted to thank you for doing this Arvo Part marathon, i am a huge fan of Part's music and am so excited to see him when he comes to NYC next week. I first heard Part's music when i was a young dancer living and working in the Bay area 1982. The first piece I heard was Tabula Rasa and I have been hooked ever since.This year has been a big year for him and i am so happy to see that more people recognize his genius and magnificence. He is an international treasure and such a rare artist and man. Thank you again!

Mary Ann Willoughby

May. 24 2014 10:52 AM

What are the hours of the broadcast? They are not mentioned in the article. Thanks.

May. 21 2014 05:02 PM

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Q2 Music is WQXR’s online music station devoted to dynamic contemporary classical music, trailblazing ensembles and vibrant, live performances from New York City's leading new-music venues. Q2 Music lives online at www.wqxr.org/q2music and is accessible via the free WQXR app.


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