John Tavener collaboration

recorded 2001...released 2004

A song tailor-made for Bjork

Tavener composer, Brodsky Quartet accompaniment, 

Bjork vocals


Quote from CD booklet: "The Brodsky Quartet has a long-standing relationship with Bjork. When she revealed her interest in Tavener's music, the Quartet brought the two of them together, thus creating the starting point for Prayer of the Heart."


Quote from an interview by Mixing It in 2001:
"John Tavener has actually written a piece for you, and you've collaborated with him.
"Yeah, I almost blush. I think it might have been Brodsky's idea, or something - Brodsky's Quartet, which I was working with a lot, and I was telling them how much I liked this piece. And they were saying, 'Oh, why don't we just ask him', and I was like [sharp intake of breath] - you don't just do that, you know - and so, yeah, we recorded it ..."

pic from

Story: Bjork and the Brodsky originally recorded the song "Prayer of the Heart" in 2001 and it was played for a slide show presentation in  2003 for the American photographer, Nan Goldin. Listening to the bootleg recording you can actually hear the slides clicking through rotation. The song was later released on Tavener's disc.
Technical: 2003 copyright owned by One Little Indian. The song is found on the John Tavener double cd collection, A Portrait: His Works, His Life, His Words, Disc two, track two.

John Tavener as quoted from CD booklet, "'I'd heard her was quite a raw, primordial sound, and I was very attracted to this sound. I thought of the ejaculatory prayer called the 'Jesus Prayer'-- 'Lord Jesus, have mercy on me'--and I set it in three languages: Coptic, in English, and in Greek. I thought the way she sang it was quite wonderful, and it couldn't possibly be sing by anybody else but her, or someone with a voice very, very similar to hers. It had nothing of a western-trained voice about it. In fact, it wasn't trained at all, and this is why I liked it so much, had a save quality, an untamed quality. These are qualities that I like...I liked the simplicity of her, I liked the spontaneity of her, and I liked the result that came forth in Prayer of the Heart.'"

Interesting info from the Telegraph, Jan. 11, 2004:

Mixing It in 2001:
"Interviewer: was it what you'd expected?
Bjork: Yeah, I guess it was already fifty times more than I already had dreamed of, the whole thing was quite magical…we would spend some times together and have some dinners…he's really into some pretty full-on debates about the small things in life, like death and religion and love..."

Some trivia is that the piece was conducted by Murray Hipkin, who is also said to have conducted Björk's performance of Schönberg's operatic piece 'Pierrot Lunaire' at the Verbier Festival in 1996. 

Back in 2000, lunargirl had the chance to interview Andrew from the quartet, here is what he said about A Prayer for the Heart:

"Wow - that evening with Tavener - I wish my writing could describe well enough what an evening that was! When we meet Björk we always have a laugh and reminisce about that 'top night' (her words of course..).  If you're interested in his music (actually he's about as close to Björk's music as you can get in the classical world) could I recommend a piece called "the Protecting Veil" for 'cello and orchestra. It's one of his 'big' hits and sums up what you're likely to get from him. I wish I could tell you what I know about the piece..."

source: the ultimate intimate news archive february 7, 2000, courtesy of web archive.

Announcement of the Nan Goldin exhibit at
"Bjork Provides Track For Nan Goldin
Bjork has provided a new song to accompany a photography exhibition in London for the New Year.
...Nan Goldin’s first major UK exhibition Devil’s Playground will feature Bjork’s track in a part of work called Heart Beat, a slide installation which the artist developed in collaboration with Bjork and Tavener....The Whitechapel Gallery will be hosting the show from January 24 – March 31 (2003) and will then travel onto Madrid, Porto and Madrid." 
Links: Special by the cd from hmv..
Back to All things Brodsky...Shiny Battery