A look back with our Chief Executive
Dear friends and music lovers,
As 2020 draws to a close I am reminded that music is so vital, especially at this time of year, and I hope that despite the challenges we all face right now your festive celebrations are still full of the joys of music – whether that’s through singing carols, enjoying online concerts or leaping around your living room in your Christmas jumper!
This year was one of momentous change for everyone. But for us that was manifest most fully in a change of name. On 23 September I stood alongside the Mayor of Bristol and spoke of the power of music to create unity and joy. That is what this organisation strives to achieve, and I was delighted to mark the moment we became Bristol Beacon with Vanessa Kisuule’s poem and the help of people from right across Bristol.
There have been precious few opportunities this year to share the joy of live music with you all, but nonetheless some real highlights to celebrate.
Particularly, our Creative Learning teams have worked tirelessly to keep music alive in schools and communities.
Regular music lessons have continued in over 60 schools throughout the year, our Earthsong programme – aimed at introducing the youngest children to singing and instruments – is active in 35 schools, and over 300 young people have taken part in one-to-one online lessons or group music centre activities for the first time.
What’s more, we have been able to provide free online tuition to young people with complex needs and for over 30 young people in care through our HOPE Creative programme.
And we even managed to keep the traditional Christmas concerts going online too, with over 1000 pupils from 10 schools taking part in a huge Zoom concert this week.
Meanwhile, work continues on the transformation of our building. It is a hugely ambitious and complex project that will deliver one of the best music venues in the UK when it is completed. However, it is a challenging construction programme that has thrown up many surprises along the way, and the impact of COVID this year has caused further complications.
We’re extremely grateful to have been awarded £6.2 million by DCMS and Arts Council England to support the scheme in the last few weeks through the Culture Recovery Fund : Capital Kickstart, which gives us real confidence going into 2021.
Click below to see some recent pictures from the site, as well as a film by RIBA South West Mark Lewis and Irene Craik from architects Levitt Bernstein about the project.
Now, a dose of festive good cheer.
Thanks to significant funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and ongoing support from Youth Music, National Lottery Heritage Fund and other partners, we have launched two creative projects through our Community programme in recent weeks.
A New Song for Bristol, conceived by artist and producer Cathy Mager, seeks Bristolians creative reflections on this historic year to create a new song for the city in 2021. You might want to send us a few lines of poetry, or a tune you’ve been humming, but please do find out more and get creative here.
We know that January is going to be a tough month, so why not Mail A Musician to somebody who needs some good cheer in the New Year. Through this initiative you can send personal gigs on the doorstep or via Zoom to keep spreading the joy of live music. Nominations for January are open now here.
Finally, I was delighted to be joined by 4,000 people from across the country, and the world in fact, to celebrate the centenary of The Lark Ascending with an online concert by Bristol Ensemble and Jennifer Pike on Tuesday 15 December – 100 years to the day since it was premiered at Shirehampton Public Hall, just up the road.
And what more can I say about it, just a sublime evening which was as near as we could get to being in the concert hall again, and which thankfully you can enjoy on demand until 15 January here.
All that remains is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Chief Executive, Bristol Beacon