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Pierre Henry: The Liverpool Mass

  • Sat, 13 May 2017
  • 7.30 PM
  • Location: Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Tickets: £10/£7

Pierre Henry record sleeve

















Join us at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral as Bluecoat presents The Liverpool Mass (Messe de Liverpool) by Pierre Henry

This pioneering work was developed by acclaimed composer Henry for the Cathedral’s inaugural mass in 1967. However, Henry was unable to complete it in time, and another work was substituted. 

Now, 50 years on, in a unique collaboration between the French composer and Bluecoat, the piece – structured as a traditional Catholic mass – will be staged in full at the Cathedral, in an immersive and memorable experience. 

Pierre Henry is known worldwide for developing electronic music through musique concrète, a form of composition using electronically treated natural sounds. His influential music has been sampled by many artists over the years, including Fatboy Slim, and his Psyche Rock was the inspiration for the theme tune of Matt Groening’s Futurama.

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 haunting yet uplifting 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.

The evening programme will begin with a set by Vincent Epplay and Samon Takahashi, made in response to Henry's music in this special Liverpool setting. These Paris-based contemporary electronic sound designers produce original compositions and film soundtracks, as well as interpreting the work of others, including English-Australian composer Tristram Cary. 21st century successors to musique concrète pioneers Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer, their music embraces electroacoustic and more electronic forms such as 'krautrock' and groove. 

Group bookings of 10+ get a concessions rate of £7 per ticket.

Related Events

Concrete Utopias: Metaphor and Material

Fri 12 May, 10am – 4pm, Free

As the architecture of the performance space is so essential to Henry’s musique concrète, Bluecoat hosts this symposium exploring utopian impulses in architecture and the arts that informed mid-20th century modernist culture. Focusing on concrete - both as construction material in brutalist architecture and its use metaphorically to describe experiments in music and poetry - the event will consider the idea of a synthesis of these different areas in the 1960s, and look at their legacies today in relation to housing and the built environment, social change and artistic practice. Speakers include music writer Mark Goodall, artist Jessie Brennan, poet Chris McCabe, sociologist Kirsteen Paton, photographer Chris Leslie, and Florian Urban, Head of Architectural History and Urban Studies at Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art.

Brutalist Liverpool: a walking tour

Sat 13 May, 10.30am – 1.30pm, £5/£4

Led by The Modernist Society, this walking tour charts Liverpool architecture’s long history of using concrete as a construction material, from the pre-cast concrete of the Liver Building (1911) to the ‘brutalism’ of the Metropolitan Cathedral (1967) and beyond.

The Compagnie Inouïe-Thierry Balasse is resident company at the National Scenes du Jura, in Eastern France, as part of the 2016-2017 national project « Artists across the land ». It is supported by the Regional Authorities of Ile de France and is a National Company recognisaed by the French Ministry of Culture. It also receives support from the Regional Authorities of Val-de-Marne. By kind permission of Pierre Henry and SonRé.
Diaphonique, a franco-british contemporary music fund supported by the Institute Fran?ais, the SACEM, the Bureau export de la musique, the British Council and Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

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Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. As the most ...

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