The Hunchback of Notre Dame is set to visit Wells Cathedral as part of a very exciting fundraising event happening this coming October! The great 1923 gothic silent movie is to be shown on the big screen in the atmospheric space of Wells Cathedral, England’s first Gothic cathedral. The musical accompaniment to the film will be improvised on the Cathedral’s great organ by David Bednall, one of Europe’s finest improvisers.
The concert will held on Wednesday 17 October at 7.30pm as part of the Cathedral's annual new music wells festival .
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Universal’s 1923 version of Victor Hugo’s novel, was one of the great super-productions of its day. The film makers built a life-size façade of the great French cathedral which, along with numerous other sets representing medieval Paris, took a year to build and remained in the Universal lot as an attraction for years to come. The film starred the great silent movie icon, Lon Chaney as Quasimodo, the cathedral’s spectacularly deformed bell-ringer, not to mention a huge cast of up to 3,500 extras!
The film is ultimately a tragic-triumphant story and was a huge success in its time. Lon Chaney’s performance is extraordinary; despite being hampered by a large amount of make-up, a body brace, and a total lack of dialogue, the attention to detail that Chaney puts into his acting is often more stunning that the film’s architecture. Together with veteran director, Wallace Worsley, Norman Kerry (a major talent of the day who plays the part of Phoebus), and young rising star, Patsy Ruth Miller (who plays Esmeralda), they took a classic story of archetypal heroism and love, and created an indelible piece of art that remains breath-taking in its scope and vision.
David Bednall has established an international reputation as an exciting and virtuosic organist and is particularly noted for his skills as an improviser, especially in providing the soundtrack to silent films. Bednall was formerly the Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral and is now a Bristol-based performer, composer, and lecturer. His improvised organ accompaniments to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the Oxford Festival of the Arts and The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Bristol Film Festival were both sell-out performances and widely acclaimed. He has also performed improvised soundtracks to Faust, Metropolis, and J’accuse.
a fundraising event
The showing of this film is a fund-raising event for Wells Cathedral Chorister Trust. The Trust helps young singers from all backgrounds to train in a world-class musical environment. The Trust wants to be able to give any child with musical talents the opportunity to enjoy a unique all-round education at a specialist music school.
“Choristership: the single greatest leg-up a child can be given in life”
Television Presenter, Actor and Comedian
The gift to make music is innate and found everywhere, regardless of wealth and circumstance. Our responsibility is to give any child with musical promise the chance to benefit from this remarkable training for life.
To achieve our goal, we are seeking donations to build up our endowment and create a fund large enough to provide scholarships and bursaries in perpetuity. Only this level of financial support will ensure that no gifted child misses this opportunity. Please explore our website (link above) to find out more.
This will be an event not to be missed. Book your tickets now in the knowledge that all profits will go towards supporting the choristers of Wells Cathedral.
You can also get tickets by telephoning 01749 834483
or by visiting Wells Cathedral Box Office.