On 10 December, a new work by composer Arvo Pärt – called “Kleine Litanel”, created for a cappella mixed choir – will premiere in the Austrian capital Vienna, Arvo Pärt Centre reported.
The piece was created in October this year, on the commission of the Wien Museum for the reopening of St Virgil’s Chapel in Vienna. At the ceremonial opening night, “Kleine Litanei” will be performed by the Arnold Schönberg Choir and conductor Erwin Ortner, to whom the piece is dedicated.
St Virgil’s Chapel is a unique medieval shrine, located in the centre of Vienna, 12 metres underground. The crypt, built in the 13th century, was originally part of the small Magdalene Chapel, which was mostly used for funeral services. When the church was destroyed in a fire at the end of the 18th century, St Virgil’s Chapel was also lost under the ruins. It was rediscovered in 1973 when the new Viennese underground rail was being built. After years of renovation, the chapel will be opened as a small medieval museum.
The chapel gets its name from St Virgil, to whom also one of the many altars of the chapel is dedicated. Virgil (c. 700–784) was an Irish Benedictine monk, theologian, philosopher and, during the last decades of his life, also the bishop of Salzburg.
Pärt’s “Kleine Litanei” humbly addresses this great theologian and thinker of the early Middle Ages and invites everyone to prayer and contemplation. The dramaturgical form of the text consists of traditional payers by the composer himself.
At the opening ceremony of the chapel, another of Pärt’s works, the “Deer’s Cry” from 2007, with a text authored by another Irish saint, St Patrick, will also be performed. Both of these works will be presented to the audience by the Arnold Schönberg Choir, whose fine-tuned abilities of interpretation are held in high regard by Pärt, who has also said that these musicians seem to comprehend the essence his work instantly.
Pärt, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year, is the most performed living composer in the world.
Cover: Arvo Pärt (photo by Kaupo Kikkas).