“I Am Silent” composed by Anthony Maglione
The text of this work is from the “Divani Shamzi Tabriz” written by Jalal al-din Rumi. I heard the world premier of this piece last evening inside a concert of French Baroque Music played on period instruments. The context provided a rich medium for engaging the piece in a way that nurtured my spirit. Early music on period instruments has an unmitigated authenticity. The instruments bring no pretense to what is being played. They do not manipulate the notes and rhythms, they simply express them. They cannot always be kept in perfect tune, so there must be inherent strength and beauty in music as it is composed. From my first experience with very early music on, I have appreciated the openness of the chords, the weaving together of lines, often allowing each line to have a life of its own, and the contrast of the modal keys to the major and minor keys that form most of the music we hear. There is a freshness about this ancient music.
Now to the world premier of what was clearly not a French Baroque piece written in 1699 or whenever (unless the composer was reincarnating something from an earlier life). I am not qualified to be a music critic and eschew even the thought of such a thing. I can only describe my experience as I recall it. I have spent much of my adult life engaging at some level or other a journey of discovery of the contemplative approach to life. My experience of it has not involved going to a monastery for months, or spending long periods of time in a hermitage or secluding myself in an ashram. My mindfulness and contemplative experiences have been woven into ordinary life as much as possible with the occasional two or three day solitary retreat in a natural setting, often St. Francis of the Woods in north central Oklahoma. I mention this because it informed my listening to “I Am Silent” last evening.
The French Baroque pieces that preceded it prepared me for listening. I listened for the silence, and, sure enough, it arrived. My description is of the way I experienced the music only. I would not presume to recount in detail what actually was played and sung, just what found its way into my gut, which is pretty much where I experience what is actually important to me. Voices and those period instruments played well together as equal participants, sometimes with words from Rumi, sometimes not. I found myself drawn into the sounds as sometimes they lingered for a bit, often overlapping, sometimes coming in separate chunks. I was impacted most by the moment the rich gathering of sounds turned up to full volume grabbing all of my attention came to a full and immediate stop. There it was, not the absence of sound, but the presence of silence. It was as present as the sound had been before it. In fact in a metaphoric sense, it was louder than the sound. For me it was louder because silence is usually the lack of something. This time it surprised me by the magnitude of its presence.
I realize that description is dramatic and may sound overstated, but it is the way I experienced it. I don’t know what else to say but thank Anthony, Trilla and the Kansas City Baroque Consortium for the gift of silence. I needed it.