Let the music play
Hello friends and music-lovers,
I hope this message still finds you and your families safe and well. Disruption to life and business as usual continues to present challenges for us all, and the last two months have certainly been some of the strangest and most difficult I have known.
In amongst the many weekly quizzes, walks and Zoom calls with family – for us at Bristol Music Trust so many questions have arisen: When will live music return? What can we do until that time? How do we help parents and teachers keep music education going?
We are not able to answer all of them.
We don’t know when it will be safe and viable to gather and experience live music again. In a recent audience survey 84% of you said you were greatly missing the buzz and excitement of concerts, something which everyone at Bristol Music Trust feels keenly.
But when I wrote to you last, I said that we were determined despite the challenges to focus anew on the unity and joy that live music can bring, and thankfully we are finding ways to do that and address some of those other questions.
I’m delighted that today we are able to announce our first live-streamed music festival, the Bristol Takeover Online.
Taking place on Saturday 23 May, it features a host of local artists alongside some special guests and is presented in collaboration with many of the city’s other live music venues. All donations to this event will go towards supporting venues and artists, in collaboration with the Music Venue Trust, whose Save Our Venues campaign is helping ensure we have a vibrant music scene to return to in the future.
What’s more, the event serves as a pre-cursor to the launch of the Bristol Arts Channel: Together Online – a digital programme of performances, events, talks and more from a cross section of Bristol’s cultural organisations, further details of which are due to be announced soon.
Of course, the digital experience is not a complete substitute for the thrill and electricity of a live event – but a silver-lining in stormy times is the prospect of new collaborations and sharing with you inventive performances from the abundance of talent we’re lucky enough to work with year-round.
I’m heartened also, that since I last wrote an update, we have successfully launched the Bristol Plays Music Virtual Academy – with over 200 young people now signed up and receiving regular online music tuition, and a quarter of those spaces given as free bursaries to the children of key-workers and those financially impacted by the virus. Via www.bristolplaysmusic.org we are able to make resources for teachers and parents available to keep music at the heart of young people’s education in Bristol.
The coronavirus outbreak has come as we reach the midpoint of our c.£50 million transformation of the Hall into a world-class centre for music performance, education and enterprise, but work has managed to continue to some degree over the last few weeks and we hope to be able to give a fuller update on progress soon.
As we plan further digital music experiences, we are encouraged by the fact that the unity and joy of music can reach beyond the bounds of the Hall and we are able to continue in our mission to share that with as many people as we can.
But of course, we greatly miss being together, and we will carry on carefully planning for the safe return of our Colston Hall Presents programme and our far-reaching music education work.
I must once again extend a huge thank you to all of you who have donated your ticket refunds to us. As a charity, this generosity is vital for us to overcome the impact of this crisis. Thanks also to all our funders, supporters and collaborators who share our ongoing commitment to the joy of live music.
I hope that you are able to join us for a music lesson or live-streamed event very soon, and in the meantime, here is a brief musical interlude I would like to share with you.
With best wishes,
Chief Executive, Bristol Music Trust