The world premiere of Für Jan van Eyck


The world premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Für Jan van Eyck will take place on 22 September in Ghent, Belgium. The initiative for creating this piece came from the Belgian choir Collegium Vocale Gent, and it was commissioned by the City of Ghent, who has dedicated the year 2020 to celebrating Jan van Eyck.

The composition was inspired by the altarpiece The Adoration of a Mystic Lamb by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, located in St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent. After a long period of restoration work, the centrepiece of the altar will be put back in its place, and the altar will be festively opened to the public.

The piece Für Jan van Eyck was written for mixed choir and organ, and it is based on the music of Agnus Dei, the last section of Berliner Messe (1990).

Arvo Pärt: „In November 2018, the city of Ghent and Collegium Vocale Gent asked me to compose a work to celebrate the opening of the renovated wing of St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent. It is home to a wonderful altar by the van Eyck brothers, with the painting “Worship of the Lamb” at its centre. The thought of this unique masterpiece captivated me and inspired me to take up the theme of Agnus Dei again.

I wished to once again set out on the path I had started with my Missa Syllabica and Berliner Messe and to move on from there. The new work is like a humble homage to one of the greatest masterpieces of Christian art. I chose the title Für Jan van Eyck for this choral work, placing my work in the background to the altar piece by the great artist.

Due to the current pandemic, I am unable to attend the premiere in person, which I sincerely regret. I wish the musicians all the best with the premiere in this beautiful cathedral.“

The world premiere of this composition will be performed by Collegium Vocale Gent, under the baton of the world-famous Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe. The concert will take place as a part of the Flanders Festival Ghent “OMG! Van Eyck was here”. The choir, which was founded by the legendary Philippe Herreweghe, will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary with this concert.

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