In 1980, Arvo Pärt packed up his wife and children, leaving his native Estonia for a new life in the west. For a Soviet citizen, an encounter with border patrol was no laughing matter, but when the family was stopped for a luggage check, the guards asked to listen (the composer had with him cases of music and recordings). They listened together. And then asked to hear more. The Pärt family later described the encounter as transformative, the demeanor of the guards changed completely. “They were so friendly.”
“One after the other, his chords silence the noise of the self, binding the mind to an eternal present.”
—Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise
The a cappella works of Arvo Pärt are a mainstay for conductor Andrew Lewis and Bella Voce, which specializes in early and contemporary choral music. Bella Voce’s 2013-2014 season opens this weekend.