Quaker concept of silence inspires Houston musical group’s performance

A scene from the performance “A Conversation on Silence — Part 1”

Photo: Lynn Lane

For six years, the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective has encouraged dialogue through artistic expression, presenting multidisciplinary projects rooted in experiential knowing and improvisational response.

On July 7, the contemporary dance and experimental music collective will begin a new conversation – a conversation around silence, about all things.

Inspired by his lifestyle as a lifelong Quaker, founding artistic director and sound artist Lynn Lane will reunite with two frequent collaborators, Miami-based violinist Carson Marshall and choreographer Annie Arnoult, to launch a 12-part series at the Live Oak Friends reunion. House in the Heights. Settling into a reflective mindset, the trio will not so silently examine perceptions of silence and whether such a thing really exists, playing off each other in ways that shape moments of harmony and discord.

“In Quaker practice, we sit in silence, consciously listen, and you hear people hanging around. You hear sounds outside, cars passing by, and so what we define as silence is perhaps not not really be silence,” Lane explains. “If someone is prompted to say something, they stand up and say the message they want to convey. or someone else may say something, and that’s kind of how it will be.

Featuring a changing cast of sound and movement artists from across the country, the series, titled “A Conversation on Silence,” will consist of one hour-a-month program for the next year and will continue to evolve throughout during. As the performers engage with their surroundings, moving among an intimate crowd both aural and physical, they bring their own soundscape of thoughts to the table and explain each other’s previous contributions – which Lane, who will play a variety of percussion instruments, like meeting old friends over coffee.

“If we got together today and did this piece, more than likely it would be a very different piece than it will be on July 7th because we will be in a different mindset then. “, he says. “That’s what excites me about it, it’s this complete freedom to see what’s going on.”

The July 7 performance is intentionally scheduled for sunset, so weather permitting, the set will open the trapdoor in the ceiling of the Meeting House, one of more than 80 James Turrell-designed Skyspaces. Growing up in a Quaker community, the acclaimed artist developed a fascination with light, which would become his primary medium and the experience of which holds great significance to his spiritual journey. The Quaker movement, officially known as the Religious Society of Friends, was founded by Englishman George Fox in the 1640s with the guiding principle of “inner light”, which for an unscheduled congregation is observed in coming together in stillness while allowing those who feel inspired to audibly share to do so.

There are different ways to worship Quakers, just as there can be an assortment of responses elicited in any given meeting. Likewise, it is the intrigue of the nuances of life that drives the exploratory nature of the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective.

“My Quaker practice influences my work and the way I approach my work,” says Lane, who was first exposed to Quakerism while taking a philosophy of religion class at Texas A&M University, where he studied architecture and landscape architecture before obtaining his baccalaureate. in fine arts and film from the University of North Texas. The first meeting he attended was in Manhattan, where he resided for nearly 20 years, and when he returned to his hometown of Houston more than a decade ago, he joined the Live Oak Friends Meeting House. “It’s an integral part of who I am, so it affects how I see everything in my life. It helps me center myself in this chaotic world we live in.

In line with her beliefs, Lane leads her collective with a vision to nurture an inclusive and diverse community. This weekend’s performance is another step forward, as the artists explore a relatable longing for respite and seek a quiet resting place in a space that inspires just that.

Lawrence Elizabeth Knox is a Houston-based writer.




William N. Fernandez