About the Work

Professor Paul Robertson writes;

‘Towards Silence’ was composed in 2007 and jointly commissioned by The Music Mind Spirit Trust and The Rubin Museum, New York.

Earlier that same year I was delighted to be invited to publicly interview Sir John both about his musical compositions and his spiritual influences.

During our quite extensive preparation we discovered a mutual interest in near -death experience and it was therefore entirely natural that I introduced him to my friend, eminent neuro- psychiatrist Dr. Peter Fenwick who is a leading authority on the subject.

Our onstage dialogue took place following a particularly stimulating and thought- provoking conversation between the three of us. Towards the end of our wide ranging public conversation John suddenly announced that he wished to write us a work about near-death experience.

From the precise details with which he described this piece it was immediately clear to me that this was no mere passing fancy but rather a long held inspiration, fully formed and utterly internally conceived.

Whilst insisting that such a project (for 4 quartets and temple bowl) sadly could not include me ( I had ceased playing in the Medici some years earlier) within a couple of days I found myself with a fully fledged commission and a world premiere arranged for New York and a UK 1st performance programmed in Winchester Cathedral!

Working with an almost manic drive and energy John immediately set about composing the work but, sadly collapsed very seriously ill just a few days after its completion. Having set up the initial performances and funding I also found myself suffering the horrors of months in intensive care and an extended slow recovery.

Both still desperately weak we only managed to speak again by phone about 6 months later and agreed, that if God spared us we would try and meet at Winchester.

Miraculously we did and the Church authorities with great compassion closed the cathedral so that we could perform ‘Towards Silence’ for John alone on the afternoon of the concert.

 

In his introduction to the score John writes;

A la memoire de Rene Gueron

‘Towards Silence’ was inspired by reading Rene Gueron’s book ‘Man and his becoming according to the Vedanta’: from an exoteric sense ‘Towards Silence’ can be seen as a Meditation on the different states of dying, but from an esoteric sense it is a meditation on the four states of Atma.

1] Vaishvanara; The Waking State, which has knowledge of external objects and which has nineteen mouths and the world of manifestation for its province. Manduka Upanishad 1-3

2] Taijasa; The Dream State, which has knowledge of inward objects, which has nineteen mouths (gateways) and whose domain is the world of subtle manifestation. Manduka Upanished 1-4

3] Prajna; The condition of Deep Sleep, When the individual who is asleep, experiences no desire and is not the subject of any dreams, he has become Atma, and is filled with Beatitude. (Ananda)

4] Turiya; That which is beyond. The greatest state (Mahattara) is the fourth, totally free from any mode of existence whatever, with fullness of Peace and Beatitude without duality.)

 

With Sir John kindly acting as Patron, The Music Mind Spirit Trust is now developing Towards Silence as a way of  exploring spiritual reflection particlarly in situations of loss or bereavement.

Sir John Tavener writes;

‘Towards Silence’  is a meditation on the four states of Atma for four string quartets (in high galleries unseen) and Large Tibetan Bowl (in Dome in highest gallery)

Sir John Tavener
Sir John Tavener

A la memoire de Rene Gueron

‘Towards Silence’ was inspired by reading Rene Gueron’s book ‘Man and his becoming according to the Vedanta’.

From an exoteric sense ‘Towards Silence’ can be seen as a Meditation on the different states of dying, but from an esoteric sense it is a meditation on the four states of Atma.

1] Vaishvanara; The Waking State, which has knowledge of external objects and which has nineteen mouths and the world of manifestation for its province.
Manduka Upanishad 1-3

2] Taijasa; The Dream State, which has knowledge of inward objects, which has nineteen mouths and whose domain is the world of subtle manifestation.
Manduka Upanished 1-4

3] Prajna; The condition of Deep Sleep, When the individual who is asleep, experiences no desire and is not the subject of any dreams, he has become Atma, and is filled with Beatitude. (Ananda)

4] Turiya; That which is beyond. The greatest state (Mahattara) is the fourth, totally free from any mode of existence whatever, with fullness of Peace and Beatitude without duality.