St. Vladimir’s Offers Public Evening Course on Arvo Pärt

From St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary 

Beginning January 22, 2013, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary will offer an extension course for the public: “The Music and Faith of Arvo Pärt,” taught by Peter C. Bouteneff, associate professor of Systematic Theology. Arvo Pärt, whose works rank him as the 3rd-most performed living composer globally, is an Orthodox Christian of Estonian nationality, and the course will combine the study of music with the spirituality and teachings of the Orthodox Christian faith.

“Arvo Pärt draws on his Orthodox Christian roots to compose music that seizes people of all faiths and of none,” observed Dr. Bouteneff. “Through an in-depth study of his music and the sources that directly influence it, this course seeks to deepen appreciation of Pärt’s oeuvre as well as give insight into seminal questions about Orthodox tradition and contemporary culture.”

The course is part of the seminary’s Arvo Pärt Project, an extensive collaboration between the school and the composer that focuses on discerning the Orthodox Christian underpinnings of his work. In his classroom, Dr. Bouteneff will be drawing on two decades of personal study of Pärt’s compositions and his recent intimate conversations with the composer himself.

“This ten-week journey will uncover the composer’s personal history, his musical influences, and his compositions,” continued Dr. Bouteneff. “His works will be studied in terms of his signature technique of tintinnabuli, a system that Pärt himself describes in terms of “suffering and consolation, sins and their forgiveness, the human voice and the divine.” 

Arvo Pärt’s body of work has resulted in hundreds of CDs, set the mood for major motion pictures, and filled concert halls across the globe. Even non-believing listeners revere his unique compositions, sensing their innate transcendence. Though spiritually rooted in the Orthodox Christian tradition, Pärt’s creations have a universal reach, as music critic Arthur Lubow noted: “His compositions resonate profoundly for the unconverted as well as the faithful” (The New York Times).

The one-credit course, formally titled Liturgical Music 360, will meet on Tuesday evenings (7:30 p.m.–8:45 p.m.), beginning January 22, 2013, and it will run for ten sessions. Students have the option of taking the course for credit ($438) or audit ($219).

All non-degree students (i.e., individuals not currently enrolled at St. Vladimir’s) interested in taking the course are asked to contact Pdn. Joseph Matusiak, director of Admissions and Alumni Relations, via email:; or telephone: 914-961-8313 x328.

The general public will have the option of registering for the course until a January 22, 2013 deadline. Currently enrolled students at SVOTS must follow normal seminary procedures and deadlines when registering.

Listen to Dr. Bouteneff’s recent podcast about the Arvo Pärt Project and its relationship to the Music Program at SVOTS on Ancient Faith Radio.

Download a PDF of this course and other public offerings at SVOTS: here

Download a JPG of this course and other public offerings at SVOTS: here