Organ and Silence

Wesley Roberts, organ

“Silence” is the name of a book by John Cage, and many composers talk about the importance of silence in music, but one doesn't actually hear much of it in the classical repertoire, or any other repertoire. In fact, silences longer than three seconds are extremely rare in all kinds of music.
Early in 1999 I had some ideas for short pieces that could sustain the interest despite the fact that they were mostly silence. After I had written these pieces, I found another way of writing music that permitted long and frequent silences, and then another, and another, and before long I was devoting all my time to a collection of organ pieces. My music had always been minimal in some way, but this was quite another way, and now I began really listening to the silence, or rather to the silences, noting how different one could be from another, and enjoying the freedom that silence gives to listeners. At first I had a rule that each piece must be at least 3/4 silence, but later I decided that I would simply permit as much silence as possible, without allowing the music to actually stop.
—Tom Johnson
Organ and Silence CD cover

Wesley Roberts (b. 1953) is Professor of Music at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville Kentucky. He has presented concerts as a pianist and organist throughout the United States and in France, England, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
He is the author of ar(ticles and reviews in british, dutch, and American journals, and has done extensive research on French and Dutch music of the early to mid-20th century.
He has frequently performed individual pieces from Organ and Silence, and presented the entire set of 28 pieces, a concert with over two hours of music, in Nerinx Kentucky on April 9, 2001. This recording, engineered by Ronald E. Stopher, was also made in the spring of 2001 using this same organ.