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Work in Focus – Pēteris Vasks: The Fruit of Silence

On 22 December, Antwerp Cathedral Choir will perform The Fruit of Silence by composer Pēteris Vasks in the splendid setting of Antwerp’s Cathedral of Our Lady. The work, which exists in multiple versions for different instrumentations, will be performed in its version for choir and string orchestra.

The text used in Vasks’ work is based on words by Mother Teresa who often surprised conversational partners with a card containing a short text beginning with the phrase, “The fruit of silence is prayer”. In 2013, Vasks set these words as a prayer for peace in a commission from Schlewig-Holstein Music Festival. Originally composed for mixed choir accompanied by piano, The Fruit of Silence is a densly woven elegiac stream of sound. Vasks has since arranged the work for different forces, including choir and orchestra, and as a wordless settings for string quartet and piano quintet. In 2020, Schott Music will publish a further version of The Fruit of Silence for choir and organ.

Pēteris Vasks – The Fruit of Silence: strong words strengthen 

The Fruit of Silence is a quiet meditative work constructed around a metaphorical road along which are five signs: ‘prayer’, ‘faith’, ‘love’, ‘service’,  and ‘peace’. Vasks points to each sign by musically emphasising the five central words leading to the work’s climactic point on the word ‘peace’.

Silence is a beautiful spiritual condition that can also be expressed in music. I get the sense that events in the world slowly cause a loss of foundations under our feet. God give that the horrors that we see in Ukraine and the Middle East can be extinguished, because otherwise we will be incinerated in this fire. Each of us can do something to stop this craziness. Let us speak good and loving words to one another, because they have much strength. Every smile, every word that is spoken with love, every caress – believe me, that is numerous strength. – Pēteris Vasks

In the New Year, Vasks music will be performed in several concerts around Europe. In January, Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal will perform Vientulais eņǵelis (Lonely Angel) in Wuppertal and Hattingen, and in February a new ballet set to the composer’s Baltā ainava (White Scenery. Winter) will open at Theater Schweinfurt.


Photo: Adobe Stock / delbars