Tomorrow, November 18, sees the opening of Arvo Pärt…and a Littlemore in Oxford, the largest festival dedicated to Pärt’s work in the UK to date. Taking place across the city until November 25, the festival will feature British premieres of several of Pärt’s works performed by acclaimed interpreters.
The concerts will take place across Oxford, including fascinating architectural venues such as college concert halls, churches and the arthouse cinema Ultimate Picture Palace. The opening concert will be given by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent on organ conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste at Christ Church Cathedral, which was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII. The concert will also feature the UK premiere of Arvo Pärt’s latest work, “O Holy Father Nicholas”, completed in 2021.
The festival will also feature other acclaimed ensembles from the UK and around the world, including the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, violinist Hugo Ticciati with the O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra and soloists, The Carice Singers and others.
“With this festival, we pay a profound tribute to Arvo Pärt, Estonia’s best-known cultural representative in the world, whose music speaks across borders and has been a source of comfort in difficult times. The festival’s programme offers audiences the opportunity to discover new things about the beloved composer, Estonian music and musicians, and Estonia. This is an ambitious project, which we originally wanted to realise for Arvo Pärt’s 85th birthday, but then the pandemic thwarted our plans. Now the joy is all the greater to finally be able to enjoy Pärt’s works in Oxford,” said Kersti Kirs, Estonian cultural counsellor in London.
The UK premiere of Pärt’s children’s songs by the Oxford children’s choirs is also highly anticipated. In addition to Pärt’s works, the concert will feature music by Galina Grigoryeva, Evelin Seppar, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Tõnu Kõrvits and other Estonian composers. A chamber concert presenting Estonian music will be given by cellist Marcel Johannes Kits and pianist Sten Heinoja, attended by composers Galina Grigoryeva and Evelin Seppar.
In cooperation with the Arvo Pärt Centre, the festival also offers the opportunity to participate in talks and film screenings. Joonas Sildre will be presenting his graphic novel about Arvo Pärt, and representatives of the Arvo Pärt Centre Anu Kivilo, Kristina Kõrver and Aile Tooming will be introducing Arvo Pärt’s work as well as the activities and architecture of the Arvo Pärt Centre in discussion groups. During the festival, the Estonian Embassy in London will organise its own pop-up embassy in Oxford.
The title of the festival, “Arvo Pärt…and a Littlemore”, pays homage to Pärt’s sense of humour and love of wordplay, while also referring to the work Arvo Pärt composed in 2000 called “Littlemore Tractus”. It was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the now canonised English Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890). The work was premiered in Littlemore Church, on the outskirts of Oxford, and will be performed for the Littlemore community by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
In 2016, Arvo Pärt was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford.
The festival is organised by Music at Oxford in collaboration with the Estonian Embassy in London and the Arvo Pärt Centre. The Festival Patron is the Estonian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Viljar Lubi. The festival is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, LHV Bank and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
See the festival programme at: https://www.musicatoxford.com/festivals/arvo-part/