Thursday 9.4.2020 19.00 Season concert 7
Platinum 2020-2021 Gold 2020-2021
Thursday 9.4.2020 19.00 CANCELLED.
Platinum 2020-2021 Gold 2020-2021

On Maundy Thursday one of the world’s most famous choirs, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. The music of Arvo Pärt introduces listeners to gentle silence. By contrast, the main work on the programme is the intense and powerful Seven Last Words from the Cross by James MacMillan, with a visualisation staged and directed by Erik Söderblom, director of the Espoo City Theatre.

Jointly produced with the Espoo City Theatre´s Estonia Weeks

Concert is cancelled.



Pre-concert talks


Erik Söderblom will introduce the concert.

Arvo Pärt

Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten

Arvo Pärt is one of the great originals in the music of our time. He is a recluse immersed in Orthodox mysticism, a secular and perhaps also spiritual saint in our conflicted world. In the 2010s Pärt has become the world’s most frequently performed living composer of classical music.

In the early part of his career, Pärt dabbled in a number of idioms, including Neo-Classicism, serialism and collage technique, until he discovered his current style in the middle of the 1970s. It is sparse, serene and straightforward, with a certain connection to minimalism but also showing the influence of Orthodox and Medieval sacred music.

One of the earliest and most popular works from this mature period is Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten (1977) for strings and tubular bells. Cantus is the methodical realisation of a simple idea, and as such a minor masterpiece. It begins with a few bell tones, which also nearly imperceptibly bring the work to a close. The work is essentially a canon, where a descending theme is joined by iterations of itself in increasingly long note values. The result is an intense and melancholy texture where towards the end time seems to stand still in the slowly descending bass lines.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Arvo Pärt

Ode VII from Kanon Pokajanen

One of Pärt’s most important extensive sacred works, and also one that is of particular personal significance for him, is the extensive choral work Kanon Pokajanen (1997). Commissioned for the 750th anniversary of Cologne Cathedral, it was premiered by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under Tõnu Kaljuste in Cologne in March 1998.

In an ecumenical vein, Pärt chose to set a Russian Orthodox text to celebrate the venerable Catholic edifice, begun in the Middle Ages but not completed until the 19th century. The text is the Canon of Repentance written by one of the most important saints of the Orthodox Church, St Andrew of Crete, who lived in the late 7th and early 8th centuries.

Kanon Pokajanen is one of Pärt’s largest-scale sacred works. It comprises nine Odes and three other movements, with a total duration of about 1.5 hours. The structure of the entire work and of its constituent movements complies with the structure of the text and of the Orthodox liturgy. There is a strong sense of Orthodox chant in the music, not least because of the old Church Slavonic language used. ‘Ode VII’ is a fine example of the pure-triad ‘tintinnabuli’ style, here given a vivid vocal guise through the opposition and alternation of groups of singers in the choir.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

James MacMillan

Seven Last Words from the Cross

Scottish composer James MacMillan has established himself as a one of the leading British composers. He combines modern and traditionalist elements in his music.

One of MacMillan’s major works is Seven Last Words from the Cross (1994), a cantata for choir and strings.. It is a setting of the traditional seven ‘words’, or utterances, of Jesus on the cross as reported in the various Gospels. Previous settings of these texts include an impressive meditation by Haydn. Because the utterances are quite short, MacMillan added liturgical texts in English and Latin.

Each of the seven ‘words’ is given a separate movement. MacMillan both addresses the external drama of the utterances in the situation and contemplates their spiritual significance. The expression ranges from quiet meditation and simple, sparse textures to broader sonorities and a handful of aggressive outbursts. Pauses have a carefully considered role to play in the musical dramaturgy. MacMillan uses the choir in a rich and varied way, often writing solo passages for particular choral parts. The strings both provide quiet accompaniment and play independent material; the most striking of the latter sections is at the end, where a brief outburst from the choir is followed by a string postlude carrying the work to an intangible and lovely conclusion reflecting the last fragile breaths of Christ.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi


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