Last evening at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, an orchestra and a chorus performed Yves Klein’s Monotone-Silence Symphony (1947-1949) — a D major chord sustained for twenty minutes with no distinguishable breaks in sound, immediately followed by twenty minutes of silence.
The symphony itself was performed in conjunction with the exhibition “Audible Presence: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly” at Dominique Lévy Gallery. It quite the experience. During the period of twenty minutes I went from being uncomfortable from the continuous orchestral drone to becoming very much at ease with it. After twenty minutes of D, many of the audience members seemed complacent, only to be confronted with the period of silence. It’s weird to be in a room full of strangers and silence.
Now watch this for twenty minutes.
This symphony… consisted of one unique continuous sound, drawn out and deprived of its beginning and of its end, creating a feeling of vertigo and aspiration outside of time. Thus even in its presence, this symphony does not exist… However, in the world of our possibilities of conscious perception, it is silence– audible presence.