From hymns to hardcore

LORNA MARSH Churches have resonated to it for centuries with its booming sound synonymous with traditional hymns and classical compositions.


Churches have resonated to it for centuries with its booming sound synonymous with traditional hymns and classical compositions.

But organ music is to take on a satanic twist as usual arrangements are replaced by black metal scores for one of a series of recitals in Norfolk - and played by an eminent Norwich Cathedral organist.

The controversial genre, infamous for its demonic themes, will join rave tunes and Northern Soul songs as one artist adapts fans' favourites for the traditional organ.

Three recitals to be performed in Norwich in each of the genres have been transcribed for the instrument as part of the Sacred Selections project by award-winning British artist Matt Stokes.

Songs such as Blood Fire Death by black metal act Bathory and Dusk and Her Embrace by contemporaries Cradle of Filth are expected to bring grannies and Goths together - and will be played by Norwich Cathedral organist David Dunnett at St Andrew's Hall.

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Elsewhere Northern Soul classics such as I'm on My Way by Dean Parrish will be performed by Cambridge University organists at St Peter Mancroft Church.

A happy hardcore night sees warehouse rave tunes, normally associated with glow-sticks and whistles, played by Paul Ayres, organist with St George's Church in Hanover Square, London.

Versions of Stay With Me, by Sy and Demo, and Power of Love, by Q-Tex, can be heard at the United Reform Church on Prince's Street.

Mr Stokes, who won last year's Beck's Futures art prize said previous recitals around the country had proved popular.

"They all work really well (on the pipe organ) but there has been a particularly good response to happy hardcore," he said. "It might seem strange to bring these together but the pipe organ is part of an underground musical scene with only a niche of people going to recitals."

The recitals are part of the EastInternational 2006 art exhibition curated by the Norwich Gallery.

A catalogue for the exhibition reads: "What characterises black metal music is its use of satanic lyrics and imagery which in part inspired Stokes to utilise this form in the recitals as 'it is the antithesis of what would usually be played on a pipe organ'."

However it goes on to say that what marries all the genres with organ music is their status outside the mainstream.

The Rev Jan Macfarlane, diocesan communications officer, said: "Black metal has sometimes been seen in connection with satanism but why should the devil have the best tunes?

"The lyrics would probably cause us a problem but at an organ recital there would not be any words sung and so the music is left to the interpretation of the organist and will say whatever we choose to hear."

Andrew Macintosh of the Royal College of Organists, who transcribed the black metal songs, said he was pleased with the musical structure under the "noise and thrash" of some of the tracks.

The Northern Soul recital took place last night at St Peter Mancroft Church. Happy hardcore takes place on Friday, August 4, at the Prince's Street United Reformed Church and black metal takes place on Friday, August 11, at St Andrew's Hall. All recitals start at 8pm and are free.