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Silentium Whispers...and...Cries...
Silentium Whispers...and...Cries...

Tue, Feb 28


New York

Silentium Whispers...and...Cries...

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Time & Location

Feb 28, 2023, 6:30 PM EST

New York, 7 E 95th St, New York, NY 10128

About The Event

"What if instead of this letter I sent you a pair of headphones and a few sheets of blank white paper? Imagine yourself in an empty room with white walls in incomplete silence for, let’s say, 4 ½ minutes. And then … let’s try to experience the sound of just a single clap. Perhaps it will make us realize that Silence can take many forms. Is it pure silence? Is it a pause? (Nervous? Dramatic? Soothing?) Could it be a mode of expression? Could it NOT BE?   You have probably heard of the piece “4’33” by an American composer John Cage. The performer(s) of this piece sits at his instrument and… does nothing. (A dream of every teenager?) Perhaps you are hearing it right now? During the “4’33” the audience members listen to the sounds they make: a heartbeat, squeaking of the chairs, rustling of their movements. Cage said that this piece “is not actually silent… It is full of sound, but sounds which I did not think of beforehand.”  I can foresee that some of you will make comments such as: “I’ve managed to listen to this piece in under 3 minutes” (a shortcut), or some of you will enjoy its sensuality and make it last longer.  Of course, Cage is inviting us to simply LISTEN to the world the way we can hear it: by the ocean, or just sitting at home, imagining we are in the forest or at a lake shore. Cage allowed us, or rather, almost forced us to feel it. During this piece a very important transition takes place: a transition from restriction (an imposed silence) to freedom. After this transition we can do absolutely anything, don’t you think?!  During our concert we will travel into and through silence (as well as through whispers and cries) and its different manifestations in various artistic means: music, film, painting, and poetry.  In addition to Cage’s experiment, there have been many other experiments of absence - absence of color, word, sound, image. My teacher, a fantastic pianist Ester Yellin (a student of Neuhaus, who was also a teacher of Richter, Gilles, Lupu, etc .. used to say that the most important notes are those which she did NOT play. I don’t know of anyone who would do it as well as dear Esther did it … but it’s a different topic.Of course, many composers have noted that music is not in their notes, but is often in the silence between them. For example, Beethoven interpreted silence in his own unique way. His strategy was simple: as listeners, we are captured by his train of musical thought and then, suddenly, the earth shifts under our feet… and we transcend into our inner Silence. In Beethoven’s Sonata No.10 for piano and violin, which we will perform, this train of thought arrives at a quiet culmination after which we are immersed into a ringing silence.In the 20th century many things have changed. It seems we are not getting enough silence. In the miniatures of Anton Webern there is more silence than sound. We will play his short miraculous pieces and, hopefully, you will realize why Webern was called a “maestro of silence.”   I remember a few years ago, in the gallery of musical instruments of the Metropolitan Museum, seeing a 2000- year-old bronze bell from Japan, a Dotaku bell. It was “dumb” – it had no clapper, or ‘tongue’. These bells were buried into the ground, it was an ancient ritual. Obviously, they made no sound underground.  Musical instrument, unable to produce sound, could be another interpretation of silence, don’t you think?  And how about paintings? Recently Yves Klein presented his famous exhibition “Emptiness.’ Attendees would receive a blue invitation, in a blue envelope, with blue stamps, they would have a blue cocktail upon entering, and would be admitted into the exhibition in groups of 10. Inside, as you can imagine, there was nothing. This is an example of how silence becomes a performance. I would like for us to try and do something along these lines in the House of the Redeemer together. Our new Vergil (from Divine Comedy) - Elena Gold – will guide us through the process by invoking our own meditative telepathic powers.  And, of course, film! Initially film was silent. The language of the film is comprised of many elements: mimic, gesture, music. Together with our brilliant film wizard Inessa Gordeiko we will demonstrate how the great film masters - Bergman and Sokurov - used silence in their masterpieces.   However, the most sublime and sophisticated form of silence I find in poetry.  Mandelstam, Tutchev, Rilke… I believe my beloved Marcel Proust sums up everything just in one sentence:“There comes in all our lives a time… When the ears can listen to no music other than what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence.”We very much look forward to seeing you on February 28 at the House of the Redeemer (7East 95th Street, New York, NY 10128.)  Doors open at 6:30pm for complimentary welcome drinks.

From our guest star -  Leila Josefowicz:

"I am thrilled to collaborate and play with Leon in his latest salon concert, Silentium. Both Webern and Beethoven are dear to our hearts.  These works explore the most profound dimensions of human existence in completely different tonal languages. The exploration is through deep stillness, spaciousness, and serenity, but also through soul stirring passion, agitation, and excitement. We, performers, rarely acknowledge the power we hold to transform a work into our own creation. We often hold the destiny of a piece in our hands – it greatly depends on  the quality of our performance. On the very special evening of February 28 a new piece will be born into the world.  Leon and I will perform the world première of “Midnight in New York” by Renaud Déjardin, the brilliant cellist and composer. To me, this is the greatest excitement of all, since there can only be one world premiere in a piece’s existence. For us, the performers, to express and deliver it to you, our listeners, will be a joyful adventure!l!Do we convince you, the audience? Are we able to convey the full expression of the piece through our delivery of the composer’s wishes to you? We are messengers. What holds excitement for me is that I can use my skills to bring people sensations that are new and memorable.Sincerely,LeilaDear Friends,I will shortly send the full details of the concert, but for now I will only disclose that we will play Beethoven, Cage, Mozart, Webern and…  the world premiere of “Midnight in New York” by our insightful and unpredictable composer-in-residence, Renaud Dejardin".

From Renaud Dejardin:

"Midnight in New York by Renaud Déjardin... This piece was commissioned by Leila Josefowicz and Leon Livshin for the "Silentium" concert of the now famous Resonance Series of New York. This very special occasion triggered a new kind of inspiration in my composition process: I decided I'd play more than usual with noise and silence, and entice my dedicatees to explore new, unexpected, foreign sounds. The violinist in particular has to play with cloth-pegs  attached to each string! As for pitches and rhythms, I encoded the players' names in german alphabet and ...morse code, adding some "alea", "secretum", and "ludus" to this "silentium" evening. Clearly, there is a theatrical, atmospherical mood that I'd like to plunge the audience into. Maybe imagine for a few minutes that you are sent back in an avant-garde satirical soirée by Juvenal in Rome, in 130 A.D.? The epigraph I chose quotes Homer's "Iliad": " ...and he walked in silence along the shore of the roaring waves." I think it depicts magnificently one of the biggest paradoxes of silence, since this silent man walking near the sea is boiling with rage at such extent that he will soon ask Apollo to send the pest to all Atreids. The silence is sometimes the climax of tension. The word "to be silent" in greek is directly related to the verb "to hear", inviting us to imagine this character listening to the roaring waves, echoing his soul. In this piece, I combined this kind of tension with the exploration of resonance. Silence is never complete and utter silence, since everything that just passed is resonating. Japanese zen, for example, focuses on the ability to concentrate on one single bell. At the beginning of the piece you will hear a strange sound resembling an oriental bell, and will soon realize you heard the first bell of midnight..."

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