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Arvo Pärt describes RTÉ Living Music Festival as 'best festival of my life'

Standing ovations and capacity attendances greeted the RTÉ Living Music Festival in Dublin over the weekend, featuring one of the world’s most famous contemporary composers Arvo Pärt. More than 3,500 people attended the six concerts over the three days of the festival, which was sponsored by IMRO and supported by The Irish Times. For the first time in the history of the RTÉ Living Music Festival all events were completely sold out in advance. The opening and closing concerts were broadcast live by RTÉ lyric fm and all other performances were recorded for future broadcast. The festival also featured a composition seminar led by the composer Ivan Moody with contributions by Pärt and festival artistic director James MacMillan, and the performance of a piece specially created for Pärt by a group of 10 young students from the Conservatory of Music and Drama, DIT and the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Arvo Pärt was present at most festival events, as well as attending rehearsals by the various Irish and international artists and ensembles. At the end of the closing concert by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra last night at the National Concert Hall, he was greeted on stage by a prolonged standing ovation. He eventually silenced the cheers and prompted laughter by saying simply, ‘It is over.’ Paying tribute to the ‘wonderful organisers, the wonderful musicians and the wonderful audience’, he drew warm applause when he ended: ‘I have written music once to a song called “My Heart’s in the Highlands”. Now it has also another title: “My Heart is in Ireland”.’ At a reception following the concert, Pärt described the RTÉ Living Music Festival as the ‘best festival of my life’.

Séamus Crimmins, Executive Director, RTÉ Performing Groups, commented: ‘I saw a unique relationship and affection shine between Arvo Pärt and the musicians and public alike. Those present for the RTÉ Living Music Festival will never forget his warmth, humanity, charm and sincerity. RTÉ is looking forward to the challenge of building on this success with the 2009 festival.’