The music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt — considered “spiritually powerful” by a large and widely diverse audience — will provide the basis for an exploration of the relationship between sound and the sacred at an upcoming international conference in the heart of New York City’s arts scene. Musicologists, art historians, performance artists, experts in architectural acoustics, and renowned scholars and theologians will gather for the event, titled “Arvo Pärt: Sounding the Sacred”, May 1–4, 2017.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, will be among the conference speakers. He will be offering theological reflections on the conference theme in a presentation titled “The Sound of Silence: The Appeal of Arvo Pärt to the Human Heart.”
The conference, which is open to the public, will be held in McNally Amphitheater at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus, 140 West 62 Street, New York, NY. Additionally, a public musical performance of Pärt’s music with the Goeyvaerts String Trio+, organist and Pärt scholar Andrew Shenton, and percussionist Yousif Sheronick, will be held on Wednesday, May 3, at 7:00 p.m., at Holy Trinity Church, 213 West 82 Street, New York, NY.
The event is being hosted by the Sacred Arts Initiative and the Arvo Pärt Project at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, in collaboration with the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University. Support for each event is generously provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Other confirmed speakers and participants include Andrew Albin, Peter Bouteneff, Jeffers Engelhardt, Kevin C. Karnes, Alexander Lingas, Ivan Moody, Bissera Pentcheva, Robert Saler, Andrew Shenton, Toomas Siltan and Sevin Yarman. An exclusive filmed interview on the conference theme with Paul Hillier, a specialist in Pärt’s music and world-renowned choral conductor, will also be screened. Additionally, musical performances will be interwoven with presentations and discussion sessions.
“Arvo Pärt’s music is frequently connected with experiences of the sacred,” noted Professor Peter C. Bouteneff, Director of the seminary’s Sacred Arts Initiative and Arvo Pärt Project, “and although the composer’s own religious affiliation is Orthodox Christian, his music carries an appeal beyond confessional and religious boundaries, and even crosses over customary distinctions between classical and popular music, sacred and secular art, liturgical space and concert hall.
“Moreover, Pärt’s music has been explored musicologically — and more recently through the lens of spirituality — but it has not yet be studied in terms of the more basic elements of sound and embodiment,” Prof. Bouteneff continued. “So, at this conference, we will seek to break new ground, in exploring how music achieves its visceral and spiritual effect on human beings through the materiality of the movement of air impressing itself on the human body.”
Additional conference details and concert tickets are available on-line.