SVOTS delegation takes part in Arvo Pärt Centre opening in Estonia

Members of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) took part in “unforgettable” celebrations in Estonia as the Arvo Pärt Centre officially opened its doors in the village of Laulasmaa.

SVOTS President Archpriest Chad Hatfield and Professor Peter Bouteneff, who directs the Seminary’s Arvo Pärt Project, traveled to Estonia for the opening ceremonies, which took place from October 12 to 17.

In 2015, SVOTS signed a concordat with the Arvo Pärt Centre for continued cooperation between the Centre and SVOTS, above all in the fields of arts and theology, in mutual counseling, and in joint academic activities.

“Our formal relationship with the Arvo Pärt Centre now has the possibility of including internships for M.A. [Master of Arts] students from St. Vladimir’s who have a concentration in Music,” said Fr. Chad. “This trip has provided the first conversation about this possibility—which is part of our re-imagining of residential life under Vision 2020.”

The Arvo Pärt Centre was founded by Arvo Pärt and his family, with the aim of creating opportunities for preserving and researching the creative heritage of the Orthodox Christian composer in the context of his native language in Estonia. The core of the Arvo Pärt Centre is the archive, which comprises information and documents related to the composer’s work in both physical and digital formats. The Centre also includes a library, cafe, concert hall, and small exhibition area for children, and open meeting spaces for musicians, researchers, and music lovers. The chapel built within the Arvo Pärt Centre, dedicated to St. Silouan the Athonite, will feature frescoes currently being painted by SVOTS alumnus Dn. Nikita Andrejev (’15).

It has been a fruitful time for the Seminary’s Arvo Pärt Project, which was also recently honored by the Estonian Government for its work with Pärt, who is the most-performed living composer in the world. On November 12, the Project is co-presenting a concert of Pärt’s music centered on St. Silouan the Athonite. That concert will be preceded by a lecture by Father Zacharias, of the monastic community founded by Archimandrite Sophrony in Essex, UK, devoted to the teaching of St. Silouan.

On their trip to Estonia, Fr. Chad and Dr. Bouteneff also visited the St. John the Theologian Orthodox School, founded largely on the efforts of Immanuel and Irina Pärt, the son and daughter-in-law of Arvo.

“It was incredibly impressive,” said Bouteneff. “Their school, founded on sound educational principles and on the prayer life of the Orthodox Church, has quickly developed such a strong reputation that non-Orthodox and non-believing families send their children there.”

Arvo Pärt’s spiritual roots in Orthodox Christianity have inspired the Seminary to engage in a project that has produced high-profile concerts, publish essays and books, and engage in cross-disciplinary panel discussions. Learn more about the Arvo Pärt Project and the Seminary’s Sacred Arts Initiative online.

Sections of this article have been reprinted from the Arvo Pärt Centre website.