Spiritual connections from Estonia to Peru...

We hope you’re making plans to join us for the national anthems as we explore diversity and culture through many different lenses. The universal language of music establishes a common ground as we probe into the personal histories of the composers and performers featured in our program. While some bear stories of overcoming oppression and adversity, some recall adopting new homes as immigrants, and still others make peaceful reflections upon their heritage, all have unique perspectives that draw many parallels to the rich and diverse heritage of the Pittsburgh region!


Throughout his career, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has lived as an émigré, expat, refugee and repatriate. His drive to discover his own, unique voice caused conflict in Estonia, where he was labeled by Soviet officials as "susceptible to foreign influences.” He eventually emigrated to Vienna before settling in Berlin where he enjoyed a freedom of expression unknown to his homeland at that point in history. It is not often the case for those who have had to leave their country due to suppression of freedom, but thankfully Pärt was able to return to Estonia after many decades living abroad, and is today recognized as “possibly the world’s greatest living composer” and has been unrivaled as the most performed living composer in the world since 2011.


Gabriela Lena Frank is an American composer who looks upon her diverse cultural heritage for inspiration in realizing her work. The child of a Peruvian-Chinese mother and Lithuanian-Jewish father (who met in Peru while Frank’s father was in the Peace Corps), she often conjures distant images of her varied ancestry as a way of unlocking the truth and potential of her own cultural identity.

For the national anthems, we have paired Pärt’s joyous Bogoróditse Djévo with Frank’s Ccollanan María, both for choir a cappella. Pärt’s work serves as an expression of the composer’s adopted Orthodox Christianity, while Frank’s piece is inspired by a traditional religious tune from the city of Cuzco, Peru, which was the capital of the Inca empire starting in the 15th century. Ccollanan María offers a compelling example of the amalgamation of Western Catholicism with indigenous Andean beliefs, reflecting Frank’s own layered heritage.

Explore these stories of cultural discovery and shared heritage with us next Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3 in Heinz Chapel and the Charity Randall Theatre in Oakland. Show up early to complete your experience with our musical prelude and pre-concert guided tour of the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms! Get your tickets today to choose your favorite seats and reserve your spot for the tour! (Single tickets and subscriptions are on sale for our entire season!) We look forward to seeing you next weekend!

Gabriela Lena Frank on the future of classical music

Arvo Pärt - even if I lose everything (2015)


Pärt's Bogoroditse djevo performed by the Czech Philharmonic Children's Choir