String Quartet #4 (Silent Temple) was jointly commissioned for the Shanghai Quartet by Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution and University of Richmond, Virginia.
It is dedicated to the Shanghai Quartet. In the early 1970’s, I visited an abandoned Buddhist temple in northwest China. As all religious activities were completely forbidden at the time of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the temple, renowned among the Buddhist community all over the world, was unattended and on the brim of turning into a ruin.
The most striking and powerful memory I had for the visit was that, in spite of the appalling condition of the temple, it was still in its grandiose and magnificent structure. And the fact it was located in the snowy mountainous ranges added to its dignity and glory. Standing in the middle of the courtyard I could almost hear the praying and the chanting of the monks, as well as the violence committed to the temple and the monks by the “Red Guards”.
To this day, the memories of the visit remain vivid. And I use them almost randomly as the basic images of the composition. As a result, the work has four short and seemingly unrelated movements, which should be performed without pause.