Universalism

Universalism

The Veil of the Temple, 2002, 7hrs Chorus and orchestra/ensemble
 
Lament for Jerusalem, 2002, 50' Chorus and orchestra/ensemble
 
Supernatural Songs, 2003, 30' Soloists and orchestra
 
Schuon Lieder, 2003, 60' Solo voice and up to 6 players
 
The Beautiful Names, 2004, 35' Chorus and orchestra
 
Sollemnitas in Conceptione Immaculata Beatae Mariae Virginis, 2006, 100' Chorus and orchestra/ensemble
 
Requiem, 2007, 35' Chorus and orchestra/ensemble
 
Towards Silence, 2007, 30' Large ensemble
 
The Play of Krishna, 2012, Pantomime opera for narrator, soloists and orchestra ('Love Duet' premiered 2013)

Following Tavener’s attachment to Roman Catholicism, conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy, and interest in the ideas of metaphysicians such as René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon, he arrived at an approach to spirituality most neatly described as Universalism. This acknowledges the similarities between all religious traditions and contends that, as the aim of each is to reunite the human soul with its spiritual origin, this origin must in fact be a single common source that has given rise to different interpretations across human history and culture.
 
Universalism argues that by emphasising the differences between belief systems, rather than acknowledging their transcendent common core, followers of any one faith are denied true spiritual fulfilment and are instead confined to a cycle of false righteousness, in opposition to the most basic moral tenets of their religion. The idea of an ‘eternal religion’ was supposedly passed from Plato down through the centuries, eventually reaching Ananada Coomaraswamy, a Ceylon-born scholar instrumental in introducing Indian art and culture to the West; and René Guénon, a French metaphysician who later was initiated into Sufism. Both men adhered to Traditionalism, a kind of Universalist asceticism that encourages detachment from material concerns and the internalisation of the fundamentals of religious belief. Their writings, along with those of the Swiss philosopher Frithjof Schuon, form the basis of the Traditionalist, or Perennialist, school of thought.
 
Though Tavener remained an adherent of Eastern Orthodoxy, the thoughts of these men resonated deeply with his own, long-pondered feelings on spiritual belief, some of which were the very same that drew him to Orthodoxy in the first place. Universalism opened Tavener to influences and themes he had not yet thoroughly explored, derived most conspicuously from Sufism, Islam as a whole, and Hinduism, and indeed the latter comes closest in its doctrines to acknowledging the commonalities of all world religions, a characteristic which has attracted many artists including W. B. Yeats, the poet most revered by Tavener. Coomaraswamy, Guénon and Schuon drew heavily on Hindu doctrine in formulating their own Traditionalist dogmas.

Further works
 
Lalishri (2006)
 
Flood of Beauty