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Listen out for the bells

Bells from more than 80 church towers will ring out simultaneously at 7pm on BBC Music Day (tomorrow, Friday 3 June) ...

Bells from more than 80 church towers will ring out simultaneously at 7pm on BBC Music Day (tomorrow, Friday 3 June) ...

This unifying moment of celebration will happen throughout towns, cities and villages across the UK, with more than 650 bell ringers aged from 11 to 90 years old taking part.

Cathedrals involved include Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Blackburn, Birmingham and Worcester, and there are many parish churches from Saint Francis Xaviers in Liverpool, and St Mary's at Turville in Buckinghamshire, to St John’s Dumfries in Scotland, and St Teilo's Church, Llantilio Crossenny in Wales.

Choral composer Bob Chilcott is the BBC Music Day Ambassador for this ambitious plan. Bob was a chorister at King’s College Cambridge and is most renowned for his choral and sacred works, so he is well placed to champion the long held traditions surrounding church music within Britain. Tomorrow Bob will be conducting the BBC Singers for their performances on Radio 3.

BBC Music Day Ambassador Bob Chilcott said, "Well I was delighted to be asked to be an ambassador for BBC Music Day, because it’s a fantastic day where people are celebrating music all over the country. Music really does bring people together, and sometimes it brings us together without even realising it, and bells are an example of that.

"We have a very strong tradition of bell ringing in this country – there’s a very particular sound to the bells, and the way they construct the peals that they ring. It’s nice to think they’ve been doing that for four, maybe 500 years. I think it’s something that grounds people, and really connects with people, whether they know it or not.”

Michael Orme, an experienced ringer who first learnt to ring in 1952, and a member of The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers PR Committee has said: “On BBC Music Day Bellringers nationwide will be ringing a variety of methods and in some towers call changes, with many ringing a quarter peal that could take well over 45 minutes. It is one of the greatest team activities on a par with being a member of a symphony orchestra. Timing is of the utmost importance using the world’s loudest instrument with bells weighing a few pounds to many tons. 

"To be able to fit in with others of all ages and abilities is very rewarding and recruits, of which more are needed, are all part of a very friendly scene worldwide. To be able to memorise methods without crib sheets is the same as learning a musical score by heart. Some methods are simple, some are not, all part of the fascination. It keeps you fit both mentally and physically. 

"So visit your nearest ringing tower, you may have to climb some tower steps, but please come and join us.”

To find your closest participating church tower go to the BBC Music Day website. If you are a bell ringer and would like to take part, please email bbcmusicday@bbc.co.uk for more information.

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