Award-winning conductor Tõnu Kaljuste thinks that performing classics, even from centuries ago, should create a feeling of in the moment, that everything is happening on the spot. “Live music will always stay alive; the audience will show up when the music speaks to them. That’s how easy it should be,” he said.
This is the feeling he will try to bring with him as he leads a performance of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra on Monday, November 12, as part of the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. This program will feature only works by Arvo Pärt, including two major compositions inspired by St. Silouan of Mount Athos, as well as a new setting of the Prayer from the Kanon of Repentance that will be performed for the first time in the United States.
Tõnu has a special connection with Arvo Pärt. The idea of Tõnu’s last recording, Arvo Pärt: The Symphonies, which includes all of Pärt’s four symphonies, began from the life of the composer. The album tries to create an impression as if all four were a single grand symphony.
“I perceive Arvo Pärt’s creations as a biographical narrative, and hope that with the sound of the entirety of the music on this album, we can refresh our memory of Pärt’s journey,” Tõnu said.
These symphonies begin with an entry into the neo-classical and surrealist world, moving on with a composition that incorporated the use of collage, continues under the influence of early sacred music and, with the fourth symphony, arrives at a confession-like music, with a sound world supported by prayer, penitence and suffering.
“Every work or album that I conduct needs to have a meaning for me,” Tõnu said.
Tõnu has dedicated a major part of his work to the music of Estonian composers. He also is familiar with church and sacred music, as he has recorded all of the Vespers and Litanies of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as well as the church music of Antonio Vivaldi. For Tõnu, conducting the creations of composers from different cultures both gives life experience as well as shapes one’s artistry.
Projects and programs
He is the creator of two award-winning musical collectives, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in 1981 and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra in 1993, as well as creator and organizer of the Nargen Opera project theatre in 2004 and Nargen Festival in 2006. He also is a professor and head of the conducting department at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
His future projects include preparing the programs of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra for the 2019/20 season, as well as performances of the Nargen Opera project theatre for the upcoming season.
Learn more about Tõnu Kaljuste on his website.