The music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is frequently connected with experiences of the sacred. Although the composer’s religious affiliation is specifically Orthodox Christian, his music and its impact carry an appeal beyond confessional and religious boundaries. His popularity crosses over customary distinctions between classical and popular music, sacred and secular art, liturgical space and concert hall.

The unique impact of Pärt’s music has been explored musicologically—and more recently through the lens of spirituality— but not yet in terms of the more basic elements of sound and embodiment. This conference seeks to break new ground exploring primary questions around how his music achieves its visceral and spiritual effect on human beings through the materiality of the movement of air impressing itself on the human body.

conference program
As of 21 April
download a printable  up-to-date version here
 McNally Amphitheatre | 140 W. 62nd Street
Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus | New York City

- Monday, May 1, 2017 --
4:00 – 5:00 pm – Registration, Platt Court outside McNally Amphitheatre
5:00 pm – Introduction and Welcome, McNally Amphitheatre
Fr. Chad Hatfield, President, St. Vladimir's Seminary
Lisa Radakovich Holsberg, Associate Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University, and member of the Conference Advisory Board
5:30 pm – "The Sound of Silence: The Appeal of Arvo Pärt to the Human Heart"
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
6:00 pm – Inaugural Lecture: “Sounding the Sacred”
Peter Bouteneff, director of the Sacred Arts Initiative and the Arvo Pärt Project
7:00 – 8:30 pm – Gala Reception, Ram Cafeteria Atrium, Fordham School of Law
- Tuesday, May 2, 2017 -
8:00 – 9:00 am – Breakfast and Registration, Platt Court
9:00 am – Sounding Pärt: Sound Studies, Acoustics, and History
“Vibrating, and Silent: Pärt’s Material Acoustics”
Jeffers Engelhardt, Amherst College
“Medieval Pärt”
Andrew Albin, Fordham University
Response and discussion
10:30 am – Break, Platt Court
11:00 am – Tintinnabuli in Musical and Geopolitical Context
“Sounding Structure, Structured Sound”
Toomas Siitan, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
“Forgotten Sounds, Unheard Sound: Tintinnabuli and the 1970s Soviet Underground”
Kevin C. Karnes, Emory University
Response and discussion
12:30 pm – Lunch (on own)
2:00 pm – Spatial and Political Aspects of Pärt and Sound
“Sonic Luminosity: Sacred and Secular Acoustics in the Long Nineteenth Century”
Joseph L. Clarke, University of Toronto
“Composing Amidst the Resonance of Pärt’s Bells”
Ben Lunn, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre
3:00 pm – Break, Platt Court
3:30 pm – Arvo Pärt and the Piano
“Sounding the Body, Singing the Soul: Arvo Pärt and the Piano”
Adriana Helbig, University of Pittsburgh
“Playing and Listening: A Phenomenological Discussion of Arvo Pärt’s Für Alina”
Maria Cizmic, University of South Florida
4:30 pm – Conversation with Paul Hillier: The Sound of Pärt (video premiere)
6:00 pm – Dinner (on own)
- Wednesday, May 3, 2017 -
8:00 – 9:00 am – Breakfast, Platt Court
9:00 am – Sounding Theology
“Presence, Absence, and the Ambiguities of Ambiance: Theological Discourse and the Move
to Sound in Arvo Pärt”
Robert Saler, Christian Theological Seminary
“The Materiality of Sound and the Theology of the Incarnation in the Music of Arvo Pärt”
Ivan Moody, CESEM - Universidade Nova, Lisbon
Response and discussion
10:30 am – Break, Platt Court
11:00 am – Sounding Liturgical Architecture and Chant
“Transcendent Visions: Voice and Icon in Hagia Sophia”
Bissera Pentcheva, Stamford University
“Christian Liturgical Chant and the Musical Reorientation of Arvo Pärt”
Alexander Lingas, City University of London

Response and discussion
12:30 pm – Lunch (on own)
2:00 pm – Silence and Beyond Silence
“Performing the Stillness of the Mountain: Silence and the Athonite Pilgrimage Topography”
Christos Kakalis, Newcastle University
“Beyond Silence”
Philippe Grisar, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
“Transforming Silence: Ma and Liminality in Arvo Pärt”
Brian V. Sengdala, Westminster Choir College
3:30 pm – Break, Platt Court
4:00 pm – General Discussion: Emerging Themes and Insights
5:30 pm – Dinner (on own)
with the Goeyvaerts String Trio +, Andrew Shenton, Yousif Sheronick, and guests
Holy Trinity Church, 213 W. 82nd Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)
- Thursday, May 4, 2017 -
8:15 – 9:15 am – Breakfast, Platt Court
9:15 am -  Pärt: Performance and Embodiment
A panel presentation and discussion featuring performers and
special guest Laurie Anderson.

10:30 am – Break, Platt Court
11:00 am – – Tintinnabulation and Non-Tintinnabulation
“Reimagining Text-Music Relationship in Arvo Pärt’s Como cierva sedienta”
Mark Vuorinen, University of Waterloo
“The Music of Peace”
Nicholas Sooy, Fordham University; Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and
Stuart Ryerse, New England Conservatory of Music
“Sheridan Tongue’s Music for Silent Witness: New Perspectives on Pärtian Tintinnabulation”
Robert Sholl, Royal Academy of Music and The University of West London

12:30 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – Synthesis and Closing Discussion
2:30 pm – Sounding Across Faith Traditions
“One Plus One Equals One: Joy and Sorrow as Manifested in Suf’i Songs”
Sevin Yaraman, Fordham University
Performance/demonstration of Suf’i Music and Dance
3:15 pm – Closure and Departures

Principal Speakers
  1. Andrew Albin
    At Fordham University, teaching late medieval English literature; aurality and sound studies; music and literature; history of the senses and the body; performance and cultural theory
  2. Peter Bouteneff
    At St. Vladimir's Seminary, teaches systematic theology, director and co-founder of the Arvo Pärt Project, and the Sacred Arts Initiative. Author of Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence.
  3. Jeffers Engelhardt
    At Amherst College, teaches ethnomusicology. Author of Resounding Transcendence: Transitions in Music, Religion, and Ritual, and Singing the Right Way: Orthodox Christians and Secular Enchantment in Estonia (Oxford).
  1. Kevin Karnes
    Kevin C. Karnes
    At Emory University teaches music history, with two forthcoming books: Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa (Oxford), and Sounding Landscapes, Silent Histories: Listening and the Inventing of Eastern Europe in Baltic Russia before the Shoah.
  2. Alexander Lingas
    Founding Artistic Director of Cappella Romana, teaching at City University London and Fellow of the University of Oxford’s European Humanities Research Centre.
  3. Ivan Moody
    World-renowned composer, researcher at researcher at CESEM, Universidade Nova in Lisbon, and author of Modernism and Orthodox Spirituality in Contemporary Music.
  1. Bissera Pentcheva
    At Stamford University teaching Medieval Art and Classics, author of The Sensual Icon: Space Ritual and The Senses in Byzantium, co-director of the interdisciplinary project “Icons of Sound”
  2. Robert Saler
    Teaches systematic theology at Christian Theological Seminary, author of Between Magisterium and Marketplace: A Constructive Account of Theology and the Church and a forthcoming book on Radiohead and theology.
  3. Andrew Shenton
    Teaching musicology at Boston University, he is a professional organist and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt, and the forthcoming Arvo Part’s Resonant Texts: Choral and Organ Music 1956-2015
  1. Toomas Siitan
    Head of musicology at the Estonian Academy of Music, author of several important essays on Pärt, having directed the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and the Estonian Radio Choir
  2. Sevin Yaraman
    Music theorist at Fordham University, specializing in 19th century European Music and the role of women in music, researching the role of music and movement in Suf’i contemplative practices.
  3. Paul Hillier (video interview)
    Founding member of the Hilliard Ensemble, whose performances and recordings of Pärt have been definitive, and of Theater of Voices. Author of Arvo Pärt (Oxford).

Advisory Committee

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  • Peter Bouteneff , St. Vladimir's Seminary, co-founder and director of the Arvo Pärt Project, and the Sacred Arts Initiative at St. Vladimir's Seminary.

  • Jeffers Engelhardt , Amherst College, author of Resounding Transcendence: Transitions in Music, Religion, and Ritual, and Singing the Right Way: Orthodox Christians and Secular Enchantment in Estonia (Oxford).

  • Lisa Radakovich Holsberg , composer, performer, PhD candidate in historical theology at Fordham University, and Associate Director of the  Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University.

  • Nicholas Reeves , Adelphi University music department , composer, conductor, performer, co-founder of the Arvo Pärt Project.

  • Robert Saler, Christian Theological Seminary, theologian, author of Magisterium and Marketplace and the forthcoming All These Things Into Position: What Theology can Learn from Radiohead.