The Hunchback of Notre Dame finds a new home at Ripon Cathedral

July 2, 2019
Posted in News
July 2, 2019 Michelle

Set against the backdrop of church spires, church bells and a medieval skyline, Victor Hugo’s story of Quasimodo and Esmeralda has captivated generations of readers and viewers.

It is fitting then that the infamous Hunchback found a temporary home at Ripon Cathedral for a screening of the classic 1923 silent film, accompanied by the cathedral’s magnificent Lewis/Harrison organ.

The evening began with the cathedral’s bells ringing out across the city, commemorating the final scene where Quasimodo tolls his own death knell from the towers of Notre-Dame. The audience was able to see the bells swinging as footage was streamed live to the ground floor of the cathedral.

Tim Harper, Ripon Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, created his own improvised soundtrack to the movie, playing the mobile organ console directly below the big screen.

The film screening on Wednesday July 10 was just one event in Ripon Cathedral’s week long Summer Organ Festival.

Director of Music Andrew Bryden says: “Offering a variety of things over a period of just one week is an exciting new development for our Summer Organ Festival. The wide range of events is designed to showcase the cathedral organ to different audiences. We hope that there will be something to interest everyone.”

Highlights included the acclaimed Scott Brothers Duo; Jonathan and Tom Scott have wowed audiences worldwide with their organ and piano duets, accompanied by their own animations. The Scott Brothers Duo joined us for a free family concert and an evening concert. Both performances featured their arrangement of Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals.

Another treat during the festival was a special concert by Harrogate Symphony Orchestra which accompanied the cathedral organ in J. S. Bach’s ever-popular Toccata & Fugue in D minor and Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3. Soloists – cathedral organists Andrew Bryden and Alana Brook, also gave a free lunchtime concert followed by a chance to play the cathedral organ.

Critically acclaimed concert organist Margaret Phillips gave an evening recital and a masterclass during the week and Monday July 8 saw the liturgical premiere of world-renowned composer Philip Wilby’s Evening Liturgy sung by the Clothworkers Consort of Leeds.

Alongside these events, the cathedral organ featured heavily in the week’s evening worship and on the concluding Sunday; Tim Harper performs the whole of Bach’s Clavierübung lll across these services.