Light in Dark Mofo?

Dark MofoFor 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.

  • Sarah

    Im afraid I’m going to have to strongly disagree with this article.

    The Dark Mofo event at St Davids is very antithetical to the Christian faith. The pieces being played are not Christian in any form, and can not in anyway be said to be supportive of it.

    The first composer, John Tavener professed to be a Christian and Dark Mofo organisers claim he was devout ( But it is not true. He embraced many faiths equally (Islam, Hinduism etc.) Look up his songs “Beautiful names” and “The Veil of the Temple (…/the-veils/the-veil-of-the-temple/)

    The piece of his that is being played in St Davids is a piece that honours the poet Anna Akhmatova. She considered herself to be a clairvoyant, and although she had some religious themes in her poems they were more religious myth and mysticism than anything else (…/detail/anna-akhmatova)

    Arnold Schoenberg was a theosophist. He became known as the “Satan” of modernist music because of the 12 tone system he developed (atonal music). He created it with the purpose of trying to bring people to a “higher plain of conscious thought”..a form of spiritual evolution. The piece of his being played at St Davids is the first piece he composed using the 12 tone system. It is deeply theophostic.…/265840990_Modernism_and…

    And lastly Peter Sculthorpe was a pantheist (…/down-under-music-with…/…)

    His piece being played at the Cathedral is deeply pantheistic. It is all about becoming one with the earth and hearing the “earth’s cry”…


    Is it the opinion of St Davids that theosophy, pantheism, clairvoyance and considering all faiths to be equally true, are not antithetical to the Christian faith?

    I would like to know why the event is being promoted as something supportive of Christianity?


    • Some of us have decided to have a strongly Christian Arts Festival in contrast.
      The theme this year is “Light”. 🙂 Its put on by Pilgrim Artists and promotes Christins in the arts, including visual, music and poetry.

      • Sarah

        Hi Margaret,

        Thanks for responding.
        Yes I know about the event at the apple shed. I was invited by 2 of the artists, but I can only see one of these artists mentioned in the event you linked? Is every artist listed?

        I think it’s a great idea that you are holding this event, and I know that the intents of the 2 artists who invited me are sincere…but I also know that one of your artists has supported and attended and promoted Dark Mofo before…I dont think you can partake in both. So this taints it just a bit for me…

        I also think it is a shame that the event is so far away. Not as easily accessible to people as the Dark Mofo festival currently is. Did you try to look for places to hold it that were closer to where Dark Mofo is running at the moment?

        Did you approach the Cathedral to ask if you could hold it there? instead of the event they actually held, so it could help the Cathedral to be the light in Dark Mofo they are claiming to want to be?

        Did any of you as artists and brothers and sisters in Christ to the St Davids staff, warn St David’s? or express concern to them about their partnership with Dark Mofo?

        • tpbaehr

          Hi Sarah – thanks for your concerns. While our festival does stand in contrast to DM, the primary intention of the festival is not as protest. That would be too small a fish to fry. We’re aiming to glorify God by building up Christians in the arts, and thereby make disciples for Jesus through art, of both artists and visitors alike, in order to see all of us move from where we are to maturity in Christ.

          And, while we’d certainly be open to doing something at the Cathedral in the future, we intentionally chose to host an event in the glorious beauty of the Huon Valley, and intend to continue to do so. Remember, for many folks, this is local – and the Cathedral is out of the way.

          We are very grateful to God for our venue this year and how the festival has played out. Please do come visit us and check it out. One day left. (Sunday 12-5).

  • Sarah

    Just to add to my other comment, there are some people who believe Tavener may have dabbled in other religions but that was all…and that he recommitted himself to God before his death. I have found no evidence of this. The following links are to John Taveners final interview before he died, and an interview with his wife after he died. I struggle to find any evidence to suggest that he was a sincere Christian. Open to finding out other wise…but doesn’t seem to be so:

  • Sarah

    Also want to make people aware of the intent that the singer Allison Bell (who chose the musical pieces and the events name) has for the event itself.

    This isn’t a random selection of secular music. It is not a spiritually neutral event that can be considered supportive of, or not antithetical to, the Christian faith.

    Allison Bell has a good understanding of the spirituality behind each piece, and, in her own words in the interview linked below, she feels she is “channelling” it.

  • Sarah

    The link that shows Dark Mofo falsely claiming that John Tavener was a devout christian isn’t working, but if you look on Dark Mofo’s facebook page it is still there posted on the 18th of May

  • Sarah

    Some people have compared this event to Jesus eating with the tax collectors in the book of Matthew, and Paul speaking to the pagans who worshipped false gods, and the true God without knowing it, in Areopagus.

    These can not be equated with the Dark Mofo event at St Davids.
    Neither Jesus, nor Paul, ever partnered with a pagan festival, hosted an event for them in their places of worship, or invited people in to hear occult music, while claiming publicly that they are supportive or at the very least not antithetical to the christian faith and message.

    Hosting an event for Dark Mofo in your church, is not the equivalent of what Jesus or Paul did when they associated with people to share the gospel.