Pierre Henry: The Liverpool Mass @ Liverpool Metropolitan Cathederal

By May 11, 2017

Music. Liverpool.

Pierre_HenryOn Saturday 13th May, after 50 years in limbo, musique concrete pioneer Pierre Henry’s Liverpool Mass receives its debut. Originally composed for the opening of the landmark Metropolitan Cathedral—a distinctive feat of architecture fabricated with concrete—personal events in the musician’s life intervened and, until now, this recreation is unprecedented.

Now, on the 50th anniversary of the building, Liverpool arts centre Bluecoat presents its long awaited realisation. Composed specifically for the unique site—a cathedral-in-the-round with towering abstract stained glass windows—the performance will be played out ,using 40 speakers arranged around the space. Unable to attend himself, Henry’s piece will be presented by his collaborator Thierry Balasse. Support comes from Paris-based electronic sound designers Vincent Epplay and Samon Takashi, and Jarvis Cocker will be on hand to introduce the event.

Considered a founding father of musique concrete, Henry was inspired by sounds from the natural world and attempted to synthesise them electronically. His Symphonie pour un Homme Seul is a 12 movement symphony played entirely using the human body. His influences span from bird song to Bach and he has, in turn, influenced artists from Fat Boy Slim to Christopher Tyng (composer of the Futurama soundtrack).


The event is part of several celebrations going on in the Liverpool arts scene. Along with the cathedral, the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club is turning 50, and a series of events is marking the anniversary of the ‘Summer of Love’. Bluecoat, who have organised the event, are this year celebrating the 300th year anniversary of their building with a year long programme of exhibitions and events.

It promises to be an experience, therefore, that is in communion with these rich histories of music, architecture, and the arts. However, Henry’s music, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, seem perennially out-of-time; relics of a vision of the future from times past. The long awaited realisation of the Liverpool Mass promises to be a polyphony of futures, pasts, and presents.

Tickets and more information on The Bluecoat’s website.