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The silence born in music – Bakunbill Kolthalo Base, St. Mauritius Monastery (photo report)

The silence born in music – Bakunbill Kolthalo Base, St. Mauritius Monastery (photo report)

St. Stephen founded a monastic community in the Bakonybél Valley in 1018. From the beginning the place was a medium of peace, reconciliation and harmony found on the quiet inner road. Saint Mauritius Abbey is currently home to nine Benedictine monks.

Establishing and nurturing the classical musical tradition, as well as teaching and imparting education, are among the longstanding commitments of the Benedictine monastic community. As a base of worship network, the local St. Mauritius Choir hosts world-renowned practitioners and performers of church music and ancient music at its inaugural events, conducive to a deeper understanding of classical music and true immersion. “I came to observe and photograph the silence” – series by photojournalist Andras D. Haji captures moments of true transcendence.

Classical music explores the possibilities of immersion, learning together, and understanding beyond the words of Kultháló Grammar. In the Bakonybéli Valley, monastic traditions date back more than 1,000 years, but the vicissitudes of history have forced the monks to leave the place three times. Since 1998, the Saint Mauritius Abbey building has once again been home to monks living in the spirit of Saint Benedict, whose daily lives are shaped by the order of prayer, work, solitude and time spent together. The inaugural classical music events here are based on the meeting of local cultural and spiritual characteristics and visitors seeking spirituality. Its transformative impact lies in the power of tradition and the shaping of society.

András D. Hajd continued the joint work of the French Organum Ensemble conducted by Marcel Pires and the Saint Mauritius Choir. The choir sings and encores almost all the time, because the acoustics are better that way. The audience listens in church pews in awe. I’ve been photographing Benedictine monks at Bannon Halm for years, and I have experience photographing small vibrations, but I stand here for an hour and watch, because there is nothing. More precisely, there is nothing. There is silence. Introspection and transformation. This is it. Finally I found it. There is no other way to reproduce this than to focus on the faces one by one. They don’t notice it because they are somewhere else. In this case, all I have to do is stay as blurred as possible, which is almost impossible, because I’m alone in front of a hundred people! I can move a little bit, slowly and carefully. I just watch the faces and wait for them to go into ecstasy. Then I press the button and record the moment,” says the photojournalist.

Until the end of September, at the Monastery of St. Maurice in Bakunibel, you can experience the inimitable moments of transformation that classical music provides. Between September 22 and 24, within the framework of the Saint-Gellert Festival, those interested will be treated to a contemporary show and concert by the Italian choir Odhecaton.

Text: Robert Capa Center for Contemporary Photography

Photos: András D. Hajdú/Capa Center

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