Pierre Henry’s Liverpool Mass completed after 50 years

Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral is to host ‘The Liverpool Mass’ (Messe de Liverpool) by Pierre Henry on May 13th.

Developed by one of the godfather’s of musique concréte for the Cathedral’s inaugural mass in 1967, it wasn’t completed it in time and another work was substituted. Now, 50 years on, in a unique collaboration between Henry and Bluecoat, the piece will be staged in full at the Cathedral, in an immersive experience. With a sound design created especially for the space using 40 speakers arranged around its circumference, The Liverpool Mass will be presented as a live mix by Henry’s collaborator Thierry Balasse.

Consisting of six movements – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Communion – the work interprets the traditional mass through recitation of its texts, accompanied by musical instruments ‘treated’ by Henry to produce a composition fitting for the ceremonial and celebratory occasion of the Cathedral’s inauguration.

This will be the first time The Liverpool Mass has been presented with Henry’s cooperation and a new sound design in the setting for which it was originally intended: a mid-20th century modernist structure with distinctive ‘brutalist’ architecture of concrete and stained glass. Henry’s electronic score was intended to complement this daring new building, as the sound would resonate in the magnificent, cavernous, light-filled circular interior. Watch this fascinating short film about how the stained glass was made for the top tower.

The evening programme will begin at 7.30pm with a set by Vincent Epplay and Samon Takahashi, made in response to Henry’s music in the Cathederal setting. Tickets cost £10 or groups of ten or more get a discount of £7 per head – on sale here.

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