Monday, May 08, 2017

Making a Messe


Pierre Henry composed Messe De Liverpool  for the 1967 inaugural mass at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. However he wasn't able to complete the work in time, so another work was actually played on the day.
Now, finally, on the 50th Anniversary,  the work is being aired in this magnificent example of post-WW2 modernist ecclesiastical architecture,  designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd. Introduced by Jarvis Cocker, it takes place this coming Saturday May 13th - and how I wish I could attend.

Further information about tickets and times.


Musique concrète for a temple of concrete! Actually Messe is not like one Henry's typical tape-splice works, it's more like a blend of text-sound, mouth-music and electro-acoustic - fractured syllables, ecstatic jabbers and droney incantations, interspersed with traditional instruments that are processed.  It's not on YouTube but you can hear it here.


Sir Frederick Gibberd, "Harlow's architect"

Almost a decade ago, a fledgling fan of the modernist church / modernist synagogue, I stumbled unawares on the Metropolitan Cathedral while on a trip to Liverpool.  And it is stunning, outside and inside.




I was with Lisa Blanning and Mark Fisher (all of us were in Liverpool for the FACT art centre's hardcore continuum event in 2009). I like to think Owen Hatherley was there in spirit.

Which reminds me there's a related event on Friday May 12th: Concrete Utopias, a symposium that "explores concrete, both as construction material and its use metaphorically to describe experiments in music and poetry.  Bringing together architectural, social and cultural perspectives, it will explore the utopian impulses and modernist thinking that informed different practices in architecture and the arts in the 1960s – brutalist architecture, musique concrète and concrete poetry – and their continuing interrogation by academics, artists and activists today."

There is also a "Brutalist Liverpool" walking tour on Sat 13th May at 10.30am – 1.30pm, £5/£4, conducted by The Modernist Society and taking in "the pre-cast concrete of the Liver Building" and
much more.