On May 16th, the International Center for a Culture of Compassion will host "one of the most original voices of our time", a musician whose profound humanism and engagement with tradition fascinates and inspires a new generation of musicians.
Arvo Pärt, now in his 75th year, has developed in his music a unique relationship to silence and the sense of mystery. Paul Anel, Art Director for Heart’s Home USA, will introduce us to his life and music. Juilliard Graduate pianist Evan Shinners, a young emerging icon in classical and popular music, will lead us into, and interpret for us, some of Pärt’s most astounding and soulful pieces. New Yorkers from the five Boroughs, come and listen with us to the sound of silence.
Register Online before Thursday, May 13.
Juilliard pianist Evan Shinners is a young emerging icon in classical and popular music. After starting piano at age 9, Shinners made his debut with the Utah symphony at age 12. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Avery Fisher Hall, the American Irish Historical Society of New York, and Verizon Hall at the Kimell Center in Philadelphia. The founder and host of an online radio show entitled “This is E.S.,” he has dedicated time to promoting students at the Juilliard School and classical music through a fresh new medium combining hip-hop music with emerging trends in classical music and poetry. Shinners can play anything from classical to jazz, ragtime to Billy Joel, and is an avid performer of his own original music, influenced by Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac, which he has performed throughout the United States and Ireland.
He graduated with Scholastic Distinction from Juilliard in 2008 after writing his thesis on James Joyce’s Ulysses. He studies piano with Jerome Lowenthal and poetry with Ron Price, and is enrolled in the Masters of Music program. He and composer/poet Derek Roberts are the co-founders of a New York based movement entitled “The New Cull,” which showcases young painters, poets, writers, actors, dancers and musicians in private and public concerts performing a variety of media, anything from punk rock to Shakespearian sonnets. Shinners and the movement have performed for such personalities as Milton Babbitt, Liam Neeson and Wallace Shawn. Evan is a published poet.
Pärt studied composition at the Tallinn Conservatory in Estonia after which he became recording engineer with Estonian Radio. During his early career he wrote music for the stage and for film and, although he had little access to contemporary trends in Western music, he was often at the forefront of the introduction of new techniques in works such as Nekrolog of 1960, which was the first Estonian composition to employ serial technique, a compositional process in which the twelve tones in a scale are manipulated mathematically as well as musically. He continued with serialism through the mid-1960s after which he began to make use of collage technique in works such as Collage on B-A-C-H. He caused a controversy with his Credo of 1968, which was banned in the USSR.
Pärt has occasionally engaged in periods of contemplative silence. The most significant of these ended in 1976 after which his music was transformed. His subsequent compositions use an innovative technique he devised called ‘tintinnabula’. When asked about this new style Pärt declared:
I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements – with one voice, two voices. I build with primitive materials – with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells and that is why I call it tintinnabulation.
In 1977 he composed three works using this new technique that remain among his most well-loved: Fratres, Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten and Tabula Rasa. He emigrated in 1980 eventually settling in Berlin with his wife Nora and their two sons. The creative period after the emigration includes many settings of religious texts, often in Latin, and many of them on a large scale, such as Passio (1982), Te Deum (1984-86, rev. 1993) and Litany (1994). Smaller scale works such as the Magnificat (1989) and The Beatitudes (1990) have become standard repertoire for choirs all over the world and much of his music has been recorded.
Pärt has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards including election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In February 2007 the Best Choral Performance Grammy was awarded to Paul Hillier, conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, for Pärt’s Da Pacem. Most recently Pärt was described as “one of the most original voices of our time”, in a tribute which helped him to win the 2008 Léonie Sonning Music Prize.