For the past few years St David’s has hosted concerts in association with the DARK MOFO Festival. This has raised a few eyebrows for some in the community and caused a few Christians to put pens to paper, or fingers to keyboards. They are concerned that in our association we are promoting a festival which celebrates darkness and so is anti Christian.
I thought it would be worth sharing my thinking about the use of the Cathedral for concerts.
Pragmatically we are public building which had a $3.75 million renovation paid for by Federal, State and local government grants as well as local community donations. In this sense, as well as in other ways we are Hobart’s Cathedral which I believe means we should be looking for ways that the people of Hobart can use and enjoy being in the building.
When we are approached about concerts we evaluate whether it is appropriate for the concert to be held in the Cathedral in terms of both content and logistics. There have been a number of concerts which we have not permitted. MONA wanted to have an organ recital which included a video programme. We wanted to see the video which was not possible in the time frame so the concert could not go ahead here. There are elements of DARK MOFO which we clearly would not allow to happen at the Cathedral
The DARK MOFO concerts we have had here have been a jazz concert, an organ recital, and cellist. This year’s concert on June 20 is called Heart of Darkness: Song and strings on the occasion of the longest night featuring a string quartet and a soprano. I believe that these concerts have not been antithetical to the values of the Cathedral and the Christian faith, and the religious works of John Tavener and Buxtehude clearly supportive.
This is not to say we take our association with DARK MOFO lightly. Last year after arranging a series called Midnight Concerts we were dismayed to see that they were billed as The Witching Hour. When this was drawn to my attention I contacted them and after a long discussion about why this title whilst witty was inappropriate and DARK MOFO retitled the series on the website.
This then leads to why I think it is worth the challenges perhaps even risks involved in being involved with DARK MOFO. I was able to speak to the artistic director about our concerns, about Christian faith, and why Christians should support the arts. It is a wonderful privilege to be engaged in such a discussion.
For as Christians we should believe in art. In part this is why we have the Creed artworks on display in the Cathedral, Furthermore in the Creed we say that we believe in a creative God and we believe we are made in his image, so we are creative people.
My prayer is that as people who would not normally darken our doors are welcomed into the Cathedral that they may start to see something of the light of Christ as they look at what we believe and consider what they believe. I pray that you would join me in that prayer.
God bless, Richard.