Gloriae Dei Cantores: Arvo Pärt

Gloriæ Dei Cantores (Singers to the Glory of God) holds a passionate dedication to illuminate truth and beauty through choral artistry. Founded in 1988, Gloriæ Dei Cantores is based in Orleans, MA, under the direction of Richard K. Pugsley.

Known for his musical sensitivity and performance authenticity, Richard K. Pugsley has been applauded for his expert conducting. His passion for enlivening the sacred texts of choral literature spans the traditions of ancient Gregorian chant, to classic repertoire, modern works, and rarely-performed choral gems.

On occasion of their album release, conductor Richard K. Pugsley took a moment to reflect on this incredible project.

“The pieces in this recording by Gloriӕ Dei Cantores, capture some of the variety of his writing.  The all-women’s piece, Peace Upon You, Jerusalem at the start shares his earlier, somewhat traditional, harmonic language. Then we share his L’abbe Agathon, a programatic piece, the Salve Regina and the evolutionary settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. We end our exploration with the Stabat Mater: string trio and choir: 20 stanza prayer…. A true acoustical variance and journey throughout Pӓrts choral repertoire.”

“One aspect of Pӓrts’ music is its ‘complex simplicity.’  It feels akin to my experience with Russian composer Gregory Sviridov.  Sviridov had a disciplined process of praying or speaking the text over and over until it revealed the musical form around his cantations at which moment he is said to have written and not edited his work. Likewise, Mr. Pӓrt seems to allow his spiritual discipline to formulate the musical expression of the text – similarly tied to the chant study from which much of his later musical works sprung.

From his own words – each piece comes from silence and returns to silence – his awareness of sound from a lack of sound seems keen.  The complex simplicity of his harmonic language appears to bare this out.  He stays true to a fundamental pitch while allowing the illumination of the text through the evolving harmonies found above, around and within the text.  That fundamental pitch, although not silent, is simple – representing a spiritual peace, silence or stillness to me.  This stillness, in the midst of a harried world, appears key to the attraction of many.”

“Similar to the spiritual discipline of iconographical study, his spiritual discipline with the text; the praying and peaceful, silent listening, and the inner repetition of the text to inform his auditory palette, becomes important to his choice of melodic expression.”

“Pӓrts’ music bypasses the intellect and auditory understanding and reaches the very soul itself. This, I believe is what draws me, our choir and, quite possibly the listener to the intrigue, curiosity and peace of Mr. Pärts’ musical prayers and stories. As we release this recording, our world is in a perilous struggle against an unseen virus.  The sharing of Arvo Pärt’s unique voice, born from his process and spiritual discipline, seems an appropriate elixir for us all. Prayers and blessings.”

Thank you, Richard, for taking the time to talk with us about this stunning program of Arvo Pärt works!

Click to the left to preview this album, and click here to find it on Spotify, Apple Music, and more!