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 V.20 No.43 | October 27 - November 2, 2011 

Culture Shock

Dracula Goes to Church

Vampires like sinking their teeth into organs (the kind that spurt blood). Organists, on the other hand, have proven to be quite adept at impressing their creative chops on vampires.

When Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula first premiered in Berlin, it was accompanied by a large orchestra. The original score got dismantled over the years, but musicians of all sorts—from goth metal bands like Type O Negative to traditional organ players like Dorothy Papadakos—have since put their harmonic stamp on the godfather of bloodsucker flicks.

In that tradition, Papadakos, the celebrated longtime organist at New York’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine will be improvising a 90-minute live piece to Nosferatu. The event takes place at Albuquerque's Cathedral Church of St. John (318 Silver SW). Playing on its Reuter Organ—New Mexico's largest pipe organ—this will be Papadakos' second Halloween performance at the cathedral. Last year she played along to Phantom of the Opera.

"It's a large, perfectly suited instrument for what Dorothy is coming down to do," says St. John's Director of Cathedral Music Maxine Thévenot. "It's got lots of color, lots of panache, louds and softs. It's the best organ in the state."

Set in the dimly lit old cathedral, pew seating and a 15-foot projection screen only further the the eerie experience. Attendees are also encouraged to come in costume. "It can be whatever you want to be," says Thévenot. "I'm going as Wonder Woman."

The screening/performance is part of St. John's Friends of Cathedral Music, a nonprofit series that uses funds from events like this to put on about half a dozen classical-leaning concerts a year. Prior to the performance, Papadakos will give a brief talk and play Bach's haunting "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor."

While Nosferatu lacks some of the things we've come to associate with modern vampire flicks—relentless gore, shirtless Taylor Lautner—this classic is one of the spookiest films ever made. Thévenot credits the dean of St John's for "opening the doors to this kind of an event, where people can come in costume to a sacred space and watch a Dracula movie. Not all priests would allow that." You might also take comfort in knowing that you will be surrounded by crucifixes and holy water.

Nosferatu with live soundtrack

Friday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m.
The Cathedral Church of St. John
318 Silver SW
$20, $15 seniors, $5 students (with ID)
Tickets available at the door beginning at 6:15 p.m.

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