I have just returned from a few days ringing in Suffolk, and have come back really impressed with the beauty of the county, its countryside, churches, bells, towns and architecture. I can't believe I didn't really know before how lovely it is, despite several previous ringing visits. Everyone should go and visit Suffolk!
New Music 20X12
I hope everyone is well aware by now of this project and the work Howard Skempton has done for us to compose one of the 20 new pieces of music, each lasting 12 minutes, as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Our piece is for church bells and we have now received the composition from Howard. He has called it Five Rings Triples and you can see it, a video of Howard describing his approach to his composition, and our press release via our webpage on Ringing for the Olympics. I do hope many bands will try it out and aim to ring it when ringing in the New Year 2012 and throughout next year, especially for any Olympic events. There is the 70 day Torch Relay, which will be visiting every part of the United Kingdom, as well as the Opening day (July 27), the bicycle road race in Southwest London & Surrey, as well as many Great Britain gold medals to celebrate - we hope!
The name Five Rings Triples reflects the five blows the treble makes in thirds and fifths place as well as the five Olympic rings. Howard's music is not a true method, as we know it, as it doesn't comply with method rules, but it is possible to produce a quarter peal of it - no rules for quarters of course. In view of its construction it is not possible to produce 5040 different changes. Which is probably just as well - you can imagine the debates that might provoke!
Radio 3 are coming to Kingston to record the piece in December for possible broadcast on New Year's Day. We are going to be the first performance of any of these 20 pieces as it will be part of our New Year ringing, and this has created quite a lot of publicity. I felt I couldn't really ask another tower to commit to ringing it at that time, as we still hadn't seen the piece and I would be asking people to commit to ringing something completely unknown. Kingston ringers are now very nervous!
We have also been asked if it is possible to produce a doubles version so that five and six bell ringers can join in and I have asked the Compositions Committee to look into this. Even if it's possible, we would need to get Howard's approval. As a musician who has spent a lot of time and effort on producing a piece of music for eight bells he might not be thrilled, or he might be delighted at the interest it's generating.
An item about this will appear in The Ringing World shortly.
The Martin Creed Project
This is another Olympic-related ringing project that I have referred to briefly before, where there is a move to have all the bells in the country ringing as loudly and fast as possible for three minutes at 8 am on Friday 27 July 2012 to mark the opening day of the Olympics. We have been involved in some very detailed discussions with the organisers, during which we tried to persuade them to have the ringing at a different time rather than 8 am, or to leave ringers free to choose the best time for them and for their local area on that day. These discussions were not successful as too much had already been irrevocably decided before we were invited to become involved, although it was agreed that ringing for longer than three minutes would be acceptable. I am aware that they are now contacting associations directly. It may help you to know that the Council's position is as follows:
- We are very aware of this project and have been involved in extensive but ultimately unsuccessful discussions with the organisers to try to enable their objectives to be more aligned with ringers' views and practices.
- Our view on ringing for any aspects of the Olympics is that all ringing should be encouraged and bands should look for reasons to link ringing to the Olympic events. Especially the Torch Relay, as this covers the whole of the UK. Friday 27 July is clearly likely to be a popular day to ring for the opening.
- We are not able to work closely with this project as we believe it is misconceived and we were invited to become involved in its design too late to be able to help make it more workable for ringers.
- We think 8 am is not the right time for ringing in very many towers and for very many ringers, although it is an improvement on the 4 am time they originally suggested, to mark the flame arriving in the UK.
- We do not believe ringing for three minutes nor ringing as fast as possible is really suitable for church bell ringers.
- We have been very involved with the New Music 20X12 project for some time now and this is the main focus of our Olympic work, although we are also encouraging ringing along the route of the Torch Relay.
English Heritage and the Church Buildings Council
We have recently had a combined meeting with these two organisations. It is good to have regular contact with them and to discuss matters of mutual interest and concern. The minutes will be published shortly in the Ringing World.
The Administrative Committee is due to meet on Saturday. The agenda is uncontroversial, I hope, and we will be continuing discussions about the format for future Council meeting weekends.
The conference organised by the Education and Ringing Centres Committees for 12 November is rapidly getting booked up although I believe there are still some spaces available. If you haven't booked up yet or if your association isn't represented yet you need to see the details and booking form here urgently. This conference has grown in its aims since originally being planned and it is clearly a shame that it clashes with other ringing events. But there are ringing events practically every weekend, I'm pleased to say, so it is very hard to avoid these clashes. I am delighted that it is getting such strong support and I'm looking forward to it enormously. While it is unlikely to change the world overnight, I hope it will bring together so much good work already in hand and produce some good plans for the future. See Peter Dale's article on Page 1015 of The Ringing World of October 7.
The Public Relations Committee has been busy with various matters, not least the announcements about the New Music 20X12 Project. Ringers were found for interview for the BBC 4 programme about ringing currently in preparation. They wanted someone who could remember what it was like having no church bells ringing during the wartime ban, with tight restrictions on dates and locations of filming. Why do these producers always want this sort of thing at such short notice! But they always do. We don't have a broadcast date for this yet. I have also just been approached to record something for a Christmas Day Radio 2 programme about bells, which has to be recorded within the next few days and must include some ringing! Fortunately I think we can just about accommodate all the requirements.
And then there was that Church Times article, where I was asked if I thought clergymen were pompous and arrogant, or whatever it was Rowan Atkinson had said. I hadn't heard about his comments until I was rung by the journalist for a comment and at first I thought he said that Rowan Williams had said it! I was trying to be as diplomatic as possible and hopefully it was OK.
Did you see...
...the article on Page 988 of the Ringing World of September 30 from the Bell Restoration Committee with tips on how to demonstrate accessibility when applying for grants to grant- making bodies?
The Next Month or so
As well as the Administrative Committee meeting we have our association's eight bell striking competition this week. Hopefully we can move back towards those heady days when we held three trophies at Kingston - none at the moment. And we currently aren't practising as we're being re-wired and wondering what we will find when we turn up to ring on Sunday... I will be going to the launch of the Paul Cattermole Fund in Wymondham, Norfolk later this month and hoping to be able to grab a few towers on the Open Day the preceding day (See RW P 1006). Then there is the Wellesbourne conference, which clashes with the Surrey Association Training Day. There is certainly a lot going on in ringing at the moment.
With very best wishes to all,
Comments or questions from Council members and others always welcome: