You may have heard of him, Arvo Pärt, composer of contemporary concert music. His pieces are at the top of classical music charts, and he has provided scores for more than 50 films. Informed by early polyphony and Eastern mysticism, Pärt’s is music is transparent, harmonious and contemplative – and not at all discordant, the trait so often associated with modern music.

Chamber Music Hilton Head will present music by Arvo Pärt, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Antonin Dvorak at its upcoming concerts March 21 and 22.  The Sunday, March 21 performance will be at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton at 3:30 pm (PreConcertChat at 2:45 pm). It will be repeated the following evening, Monday, at All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island at 7:30 pm (no PreConcertChat).

Sunday’s audience is invited 45 minute prior to concert time to learn more about the music, especially the styles and techniques associated with these composers. Parents who bring their kids to this music appreciation session will be guests of CMHH, in other words families with school-aged children are free to the concert.

The program opens with “Fratres for String Quartet.” Pärt wrote a series of six single movement chamber compositions entitled “Fratres” or Brethren. This particular piece is rather like a procession, beginning as a murmur, growing huge as it approaches, then vanishing into the distance. Pärt imbues the music with importance and meaning by using his own signature technique called “tintinnabulation,” which takes its name from the ringing of the bells. strings-laura-sutton-floyd

English folk song follows, performed by soprano Laura Sutton Floyd and violinist Melissa Barrett. In this unusual pairing, the composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, uses voice and violin to present eight poems in highly descriptive and narrative fashion. Entitled “Along the Field,” the poetry is by A. E. Housman and evokes the mood of pastoral England.

The program ends as it began, with a string quartet. Antonin Dvorak, the eminent Czech composer, wrote his “American” quartet in 1893, while away from home and teaching in this country. Some hear in the beautiful slow movement an African American spiritual, in the chattering trio a Native American bird call, in the relentless finale a clattering train. Others say these flavors are just as much Czech as they are American. In any case, listeners the world over love and identify with Dvorak’s music.

Joining Laura Sutton Floyd and Melissa Barrett in this concert are Tristan Lehnert, violin; Yvonne Johnson, viola; and Angela Maleh, cello. For additional information call 843.681.9969 or visit Program notes and recorded excerpts online.