46 Essex St, Guelph ON
Although it has become one of Guelph's hubs for memorable musical performances, Silence (also known as Silence Sounds) is more than simply a music venue. This humble single-storey building — a former auto-repair garage, located just outside the downtown core — has hosted hundred of community events, from art exhibitions to skills workshops to film screenings, since 2012. What unifies Silence’s happenings is their dedication to the space’s ethos. Welcoming all art regardless of style, class, culture and tradition, Silence fosters risk-taking, innovation and experimentation above all else. In a 2015 interview with Guelph Life magazine, founder Ben Grossman explains the venue’s ideology best: “I’d hate to make a space where someone couldn’t nail a goat’s heart to the wall if that’s what they felt compelled to do.”
Given that the space exists as a post-genre “portal for adventurous new sound events,” musicians of all stripes have performed at Silence over the years. Concerts have featured national and international acts as diverse as Turkish-Canadian prog-rocker Minor Empire, folk duo The Young Novelists, violin looper FOONYAP, avant-pop composer L Con and French free-jazz artist TOC. Silence often teams up with local festivals and groups to present concerts, including Kazoo! Fest and the Guelph Jazz Festival. The non-profit venue continues to put on over 100 shows each year.
Reflecting its relationship with the University of Guelph's International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, Silence has run a weekly community-based improvisation session (“Morning Music”) every Monday since shortly after its founding. Other regular events include vocal meditation and an open mic night.