Centenary music

Listen again

Recorded and produced by Jonathan Scott, Department of Music.

Throughout 2009, we celebrated our centenary with a medley of musical events for a variety of tastes.

17 June

The University’s summer gala concert took place in the auditorium of the Victoria Rooms at 19.30 on 17 June.

The University chamber choir, conducted by Matthew Nash sang two unaccompanied part songs by Delius, Thompson’s ‘Alleluia’, Grainger’s ‘Londonderry Air’ and Stanford’s ‘The Blue Bird’.

The University’s chamber orchestra, conducted by Robert Lloyd Weaver, played Four Last Songs by Strauss, and the symphony orchestra, conducted by Neal Farwell, performed Stravinsky’s Petrushka and new work by a student composer.


Bell-ringers preparing to ring Great George. Picture: Martin Chainey

24 May

At midday on Sunday 24 May, church bells across Bristol rang to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the University, just as they did in May 1909 when King Edward VII granted the University its Royal Charter to award degrees.

Great George, the nine-and-a-half-ton bell in the tower of the Wills Memorial Building on Queen’s Road, which was hand-rung for the first time since the death of the Queen Mother, led the ringing. Bristol Cathedral and five other Bristol churches then joined in, delighting listeners with their peals for almost an hour. Many people enjoyed the event from the pleasant surroundings of the new centenary garden.

More than 50 bell-ringers took part in the event, many of whom were former Bristol students who returned to the city especially for the occasion.

Read more about the bell-ringing on the University, BBC and Bristol Evening Post websites.

The Brodowski Quartet

The Brodowski Quartet performing Geoffrey Poole's The Sheltering Bell

8 May

To celebrate the centenary, the University commissioned composer Geoff Poole, Professor of Composition in the Department of Music, to write a piece of music to mark the occasion. The work, entitled The Sheltering Bell, was performed by the Brodowski Quartet at a gala dinner on 8 May.

Listen to the composition and read more about the piece and its performance on our news pages.

14 March

On 14 March, the University marked a double anniversary: a distinguished quartet of vocal soloists, all of them Bristol alumni, joined over 200 staff and students, conducted by John Pickard, to celebrate both the University's centenary and the bicentenary of Mendelssohn's birth (3 February 1809). They performed his magnum opus, the oratorio Elijah.

Jennifer Bate

Jennifer Bate (left) with Professor Stephen Banfield, receiving her honorary degree from the University in 2007

3 March

On 3 March, internationally acclaimed organist Jennifer Bate delivered a lecture, entitled The Organ: Box of Whistles or King of Instruments?, in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building. The lecture was accompanied by excerpts of music played on the Great Hall organ and included Robert Schumann’s Sketch No. 2 in C, J.S. Bach’s Pastorale (BMV 590), 2nd movement and John Stanley’s Voluntary in F, opus 7, no. 6.

Jennifer Bate, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by the University in 2007 and, in 2008, was made an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.