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The performance of The Veil is a musical journey using voices and instruments. Performance takes place at night in a sacred space, and the object of the journey is to make effective a heightened state of being of the listener through a symbolic unveiling from darkness towards light.
The soul’s journey is to move from the existential darkness of temporal duration—time—towards the Glory of the divine instantaneity, the ever-abiding light of the Eternal. It is also, for the symbolic themes are threaded and interwoven throughout the music’s unfolding, at the beginning in the absence of light, a waiting at the tomb of Christ for the Light of the Resurrection.
The listener should be aware at the outset of two features of the conception of The Veil which act as important non-auditory aspects of the music’s performance. The first feature might be said to form the seminal idea (archetype) of the whole work. It is the idea that any claim to an exclusive possession of Truth by any sacred tradition is equivalent to placing a limitation of the infinitude of the Divine which must, by definition, encompass everything. Whatever symbols, words or characterisation used to define or express the nature of God and His relationship to man must, in the final analysis, be seen inevitably as an accommodation to man’s earthly state. In order to embrace the infinitude of God, all forms have to be shattered—even that of The Veil. In the religious context of the music this means all models of a manifest Temple of Jerusalem must finally be discarded in the Face of the Divine Presence.
The second non-auditory aspect of The Veil’s conception is closely related to the first, and underscores the whole work. God is nothing, in the sense that God is no thing. In the last twenty minutes of the work the awakened soul has moved from darkness to light until a point is reached, with the intensification of the light, that there is a sudden explosion of light. This is the rending of the Veil.
Some indication of the depth and complexity of the symbolic resonances at the climax of The Veil can be gauged by recalling the following themes, which, in varying degrees of intensity, are underwritten by the music of the eighth cycle: The Goal of the Journey; Totality of Light; The Light of the Resurrection; The Rending of the Veil of the Temple; Destruction of the old order—the exclusivity of the various differing religions; Destruction of any manifest structure of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem through the realisation of the greater spiritual and metaphysical model of the Temple within; Realisation of Self.
from notes by Brian Keeble © 2013
|Tavener: The Veil of the Temple|
The landmark recording of Sir John Tavener’s 'Veil of the Temple': this double album captures the concert-version of this epic work, composed to last through the night until dawn in the manner of the grand vigils of the Orthodox Church.» More
|White Light - the space between|
From the Antony Gormley ensō adorning its cover to the final strains of a chamber orchestra raag, the restless shade of contemplative exploration haunts an album which includes seminal works by Vasks and Pärt.» More
|A Knight's Progress|
The premiere recording of Nico Muhly’s 'Our present Charter' (celebrating 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta), alongside choral works by Parry, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Bairstow, Tavener and Haydn.» More