Megan Brand on the once in a lifetime experience of the ringing of Great George, officially opening #BRISTOLPROMS.
Sheltering inside the doorway of the hugely impressive Wills Memorial Building, a group of journalists, music aficionados and conservation enthusiasts gathered, preparing for a soul-altering bell dong.
Feeling ever-so-slightly cynical, it was only after climbing 215 feet that I realised how significant this moment was, and how perfect it was as a way of launching #BRISTOLPROMS. As the nine-and-a-half ton bell was heaved into oscillation by a pair of gloved experts, the immense sound rang out across a drizzly Bristol, calling all to attention and declaring #BRISTOLPROMS officially launched.
I did not feel moved to tears as some apparently do, but, as the building trembled beneath my feet, I experienced the unsettling feeling of my body submitting entirely to the resonance that comes with 148 decibels of sound. Suddenly, I understood the #BRISTOLPROMS tagline, “FEEL THE MUSIC”.
The week ahead is about actively experiencing music in a way that, for many people, is only possible outside of the seemingly staid genre of classical music. I’ve sat through plenty of unremarkable concerts and understood why so many people don’t connect with it. But a festival that prioritises an engaging sensory experience over an encyclopaedic knowledge of Bach is just what’s needed.
I hope that #BRISTOLPROMS will turn Bristol into a city of classical converts.
To find out more about #BRISTOLPROMS, click here.
Megan is a full-time evangelist for the arts and borderline-obsessive proof-reader. As Marketing Officer at Bristol Old Vic it is her mission to make sure people hear about – and come along to – the huge spectrum of performances that take place in the various spaces.