Q&A with Ināra Jakubone and Pēteris Vasks:
When did you compose the Pater noster and what meaning does its title hold for people today?
It was in the eighties when my father, who was a minister, often asked – son, when will you compose „The Lord’s Prayer”? One that the congregation could sing in faith – simple but convincing. I answered that I hadn’t matured enough to write it. And so the idea kept being postponed; my father passed away, and only after many years did I finally write Pater noster. That’s why for me the piece has a kind of duality – it is for my own father, and for our common Father. Pater noster is a prayer, and I have always thought that prayer is a spiritual concentration, an act of faith, asking for some guidance in this world where we all are lost.
Sacred music and sacred texts were the first musical impressions of my childhood. Although there was no organ, only a harmonium, in the church of my hometown Aizpute, we had a fairly good church choir and, listening to their singing, the desire to compose came to me quite naturally. It was a very personal process. I did write sacred songs, yet didn’t give them to anyone to sing.
Later, when my father was a minister in Riga, I wrote a few sacred songs for his church choir. When I began to study composition I quickly understood a fundamental thing. Namely, that in order to be spiritually free you must write instrumental music or at least something with folkloric texts, because in that political regime sacred music was simply forbidden. It was clear to everyone that if you write sacred music, it will end up at the bottom of your desk drawer and never see the light of day. But at that time for me it was more important to hear a live performance, to gain musical experience. For this reason I wrote almost no vocal music and, of course, even less sacred music. In my opinion writing sacred music is the highest responsibility.
If true, deeply felt faith is not inherent in sacred music, if it lacks genuine conviction, then it is especially amoral. When my father encouraged me to do it, I wasn’t capable of experiencing it, for to me many other things seemed far more interesting… And then came the nineties, the regime fell, and an interesting metamorphosis occurred wherein many „court” composers of the previous regime stopped praising the (communist) party and suddenly became believers. Again, in the context where new rules came into play and new conditions encouraged writing of sacred works to the point of being almost a trend, I felt no desire to write something like that…
Pater noster was my first sacred piece written in my mature years.