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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Funeral favourites at crematorium show
Coffin
More and more people are choosing modern tunes for funerals
A crematorium in south Wales is staging a pop concert to show off its new organ.

Four organists at Llwydcoed Crematorium in Aberdare, Cynon Valley, will take turns to play some of the favourite pop songs chosen by mourners.


People are choosing pop songs rather than traditional hymns, especially when they enter and leave the chapel

Crematorium superintendent Clive Lewis

Old-fashioned hymns like Abide With Me and the Old Rugged Cross have been ousted, in favour of tunes like Elton John's Candle in the Wind and Frank Sinatra's My Way.

More than 100 tickets have so far been snapped up for the show.

Crematorium superintendent Clive Lewis said: "A lot of the songs are those requested for funerals.

Sombre

"People are choosing pop songs rather than traditional hymns, especially when they enter and leave the chapel.

"But because funerals are a sombre occasion the music has to be low key and we don't get to hear the full potential of the organ."

The organists at funerals are normally out of sight - but they will be in full view for the concert next Sunday.

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World will also be played at the free concert.

Chance

Organist Valmai Davies, 52, said: "It will be a good chance to try out the different sounds of the organ.

"It's also a chance for us organists to be seen as we normally play from the organ loft."

The concert programme promises it will be a "source of comfort" and "an opportunity to celebrate the lives of loved ones."

Research has shown that funerals are becoming more and more personalised.

A recent report, commissioned by the Co-operative Funeral Service, found there was growing enthusiasm for personal, custom-made ceremonies that owe less and less to religion.

Jazz bands

It found that 57% of people questioned would choose pop songs instead of traditional hymns or poems, and just under half would consider having a "themed" funeral.

Ideas range from gangland-style funeral processions, with horse-drawn carriages pulling the coffin, to New Orleans jazz bands playing When The Saints Go Marching In.

More than 89% of people interviewed expressed a desire for family and friends to wear bright colours in place of traditional black.

Most people wanted their ashes scattered in a favourite place - such as a football ground, a childhood home or a hilltop vista - and a few suggested being launched into space.

Others suggestions included treating friends and relatives to a firework display by mixing the ashes with gunpowder, while some people wanted a small amount of their remains placed in a specially designed locket for their loved ones to wear.

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Dominic Maguire
"Things are going fairly hectically"
See also:

22 Mar 00 | UK
10 Feb 99 | UK
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