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Aaron Hawthorne

Saturday Night at the Movies
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Aaron Hawthorne accompanies this famous silent movie, live from the St Cyprian’s organ. 

7 October 2023

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a masterpiece of silent cinema that has withstood the test of time. Released in 1923, the film hascaptivated audiences for a century with its striking visual style,compelling performances, and powerful storytelling. It is a landmark of the silent era and a true cinematic treasure.

Lon Chaney's haunting portrayal of Quasimodo, the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, and his unrequited love for the beautiful Esmeralda is atimeless tale of love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The film's dramatic climax set against the iconic backdrop of Notre Dame Cathedral is a tour deforce of silent cinema that continues to leave audiences spellbound.

With its universal themes, unforgettable characters, and breathtakingimagery, The Hunchback of Notre Dame remains a shining exampleof the power and beauty of silent film.


The addition of an improvised pipe organ accompaniment to a screening of The Hunchback of Notre Dame
will only serve to enhance the overall experience. A live performance of improvised music adds an extra layer of emotional depth and engagement, allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves in the film's world. The pipe organ, with its rich and versatile tonal palette, is a perfect instrument to capture the film's many moods and themes, from the ominous and foreboding to the romantic and sentimental. The live performance of improvised music also allows for a unique and dynamic presentation of the film, one that is different from today's typical screening experiences. It is an exciting opportunity for viewers to witness the magic of live performance and the power of a live score to heighten the impact of a film.

As an experienced and versatile organist, Aaron Hawthorne is well equipped to take on such an epic film as
‘Hunchback'. With years of experience performing in a variety of musical styles and genres, Aaron has developed a keen sense of musicality and improvisation that will complement the film's themes and emotions. His knowledge of theatre organ practice and history, combined with a passion for the art of silent cinema, makes Aaron well-suited to craft a unique and immersive musical experience for the audience. Aaron's expertise in live accompaniment for silent films has been honed through many successful performances, ensuring that the live score will be executed with precision and creativity.

After winning the UK competition in 2017, Aaron was the 2019 winner of the American Theatre Organ Society's international Young Theatre Organist competition, and received the Cinema Organ Society’s Ian Sutherland Award in the same year.