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ISM: Yale Camerata / Advent Concert: Dona Nobis Pacem

  • Battell Chapel 400 College Street New Haven, CT, 06511 United States (map)

Marguerite L. Brooks, conductor

Nola Richardson, soprano
Tyler Ray, tenor
Brendan Fitzgerald, bass-baritone

On the program:

Arvo Pärt: Christmas Lullaby, Which Was the Son of…, Adam’s Lament
W.A. Mozart: Bassoon Concerto K. 191
   Wayne Hileman, bassoon
J.S. Bach: Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben BWV 248/4 (from Weihnachts-Oratorium), Dona nobis pacem BWV 232 (from Mass in B-minor)
John Goss, arr. David Willcocks: See amid the winter’s snow

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is an Estonian composer who developed his unique voice under the suffocating oppression of Soviet rule. As a student at the Tallinn Conservatory, he composed music in the Neoclassical style and supported himself by supplying scores for film and theater. He later learned twelve-tone technique from illicit manuscripts, but was officially censured when he offered a serial work for public performance. In 1964 he turned to the music of Bach for inspiration; his work from that era juxtaposes Baroque and contemporary styles, and features traditional contrapuntal techniques. In 1968, however, Pärt found himself at an impasse. The music he had composed so far expressed neither his personal identity as a devout Orthodox Christian nor the oppressive circumstances under which he lived and worked.

For several years, Pärt dedicated himself to the study of ancient church music, especially Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. Inspired by the simplicity and clarity of this repertoire, he found his voice again in 1976 with the development of the compositional technique that still defines him for audiences across the globe. This technique, named “tintinnabuli” by the composer himself, evokes the ringing of Orthodox church bells. Music composed in this style features a characteristic “tintinnabular voice,” which arpeggiates the tonic triad, and a melodic voice, which moves diatonically in stepwise motion. Pärt’s works in this style are highly serialized, and much of the music is determined by large-scale formal decisions. The tintinnabuli technique produces an unusual collage of consonant and dissonant harmonies, and the resulting soundscape is unique to Pärt’s music. Pärt has been described more recently at a “mystic minimalist”: mystic because he evokes the sounds and values of his Orthodox faith, and minimalist because he greatly restricts the musical materials at his disposal.

Free; no tickets required

Earlier Event: December 5
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001 Wes Anderson)
Later Event: December 5
Washboard Slim and The Bluelights