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April 8 , 2008

Arvo Pärt Sonning Prize celebrations

Arvo Pärt will be in Denmark next month to receive the 2008 Léonie Sonning Music Prize.

The Sonning Music Foundation will present the award, regarded as one of Europe’s most important music prizes, at a special concert at the Radiohusets Concert Hall in Copenhagen on May 22, 2008. Tõnu Kaljuste will conduct the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Vocal Ensemble in three of Pärt's works — “Trisagion” for string orchestra, “L'Abbé Agathon” for soprano and eight cellos, and “In principio” for choir and orchestra — as well as J. S. Bach's motet “Singet dem Herrn”. In announcing the award, the Sonning Music Foundation hailed the Estonian composer as "one of the most original voices of our time."

The jury’s statement continues, “Pärt was inspired in the 1960s by western modern music and experimented with serialismand collage techniques. After intense studies of medieval and Renaissance music, he found his own style characterized by beauty and simplicity which may be experienced in for instance ‘Fratres’, ‘Summa’ and ‘Tabula rasa’. Since then a number of great works have followed such as ‘Te Deum’ and ‘Miserere’, in which a strong religiousness originating in the Orthodox Church becomes distinct. In recent years the classic symphony orchestra has been playing a more significant role in Arvo Pärt’s music. An example is ‘Lamentate’ for piano and orchestra...” Each of the compositions cited has received definitive recordings on ECM New Series.

The Léonie Sonning Music Prize, established in 1959 by the foundation of Danish editor Carl Johan Sonning, is given every year to an outstanding musical figure. Previous recipients have included Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein; Alfred Brendel, Keith Jarrett, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Mstislav Rostropovich, Miles Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Georg Solti, Benjamin Britten, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, György Kurtág and Sergiu Celibidache.