Towards Silence

Towards Silence

John Tavener has written Towards Silence, a major new work for the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. With its exhibitions of art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions, the Rubin Museum of Art invites artists on a regular basis to help interpret the philosophies and spiritual nature inherent in the art. The Rubin Museum commissioned the piece along with the Music Mind Spirit Trust (UK) with funding from the The Argosy Contemporary Music Fund, following an extended conversation between Tavener and Paul Robertson of the Medici Quartet in the summer of 2007.

Following the world premiere at the museum in April of this year, the UK premiere takes place on July 4 at Colet House, London. Performances then take place in Westminster Synagogue on July 5, Winchester Cathedral on July 6 and as part of the Petworth Festival in West Sussex on July 9.

To listen to an interview with John Tavener talking about Towards Silence broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Front Row programme, please click here.

Tim McHenry, Producer for the Rubin Museum writes “Written by one of 20th-century’s greatest composers after his recent, all-too-real brush with mortality, Towards Silence is really an explicit meditation on death and the four states of consciousness (atma): waking, dream, deep sleep, and that which is beyond existence.” Towards Silence is written to be performed within the museum’s central, dramatic spiral staircase. Four string quartets will perform the piece, each stationed on one of the four levels of the museum’s staircase, unseen by the audience. The quartets are joined by a large Tibetan temple bowl, sounding every 19 beats. The Medici Quartet is to be reassembled for the occasion, joined by the Attacca, Corigliano, and Jasper quartets.

Click here to listen to Tim McHenry, producer at the Rubin Museum of Art, describe the commission and details behind Towards Silence

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“Because the audience is seated on the six floors surrounding the staircase, the listener will be able to experience the mystery of the sound as it rises along a vertical axis, rather than along the traditional horizontal,” says McHenry ”The audience will be surrounded by sacred art from the Himalayas, enhancing, we hope, what will certainly be a very unconventional listening experience.”

Inspired by the French metaphysicist René Guénon’s classic exploration into the human psyche in the 20th century, Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta (1925), and at the Rubin, the performance it will be preceded by readings from the Vendanta by noted New Yorkers. A discussion at 6:30 pm in the museum’s theatre will precede the performance presented together with the World Science Festival, which will explore the progression of consciousness as a brain dies.

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