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Film music

31 October 2014

NO TINKLING piano, no coloured lights as the cinema organ rises into view, but a full cathedral organ to accompany the silent films in Bradford, now part of the West Yorkshire & the Dales diocese.

The assistant director of music at Bradford Cathedral, Jonathan Eyre, had the idea one evening in the pub last year after a choral evensong: why not show some of the old silent films, accompanied by the organ, as a fund-raiser for the Organ Appeal?

The first film was the early Oliver Twist, and he has since accompanied The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Nosferatu, Phantom of the Opera,and Charlie Chaplin's City Lights. He has had great support from the National Media Museum, which has lent the equipment.

This season started with Metropolis, made in Germany in 1925, and at that time considered the most expensive film ever released, andwill go on with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the Wizard of Oz.

Mr Eyre does not rehearse the music. He watches each film several times, so that he knows the story, and then improvises during the performances. The events are proving so popular that he now has a considerable following. He recently had a chance to accompany a film with a real Wurlitzer organ when he took Oliver Twist (above) to the opening of the annual Saltaire Festival, in the Victoria Hall, Saltaire.

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