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A tribute concert to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells"

14 Mar 2023
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UAB Professor of Musicology Xavier Alern and his contemporary instrument orchestra Opus One are organising a commemorative open rehearsal, in concert form, for the composer Mike Oldfield on Monday 20 March at 1:30pm in the UAB Theatre to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of his debut album, Tubular Bells, the first solo album by the British musician, composer and multi-instrumentalist who captured the attention of the international musical sphere with the originality and the quality of his music. 

«50è aniversari de Tubular Bells de Mike Oldfield», homenatge musical al compositor britànic

Opus One will offer this concert on 13 June at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona with the participation of the Scottish singer Maggie Reilly, known for her hits with Mike Oldfield and her solo albums.

On 25 May 1973, Mike Oldfield, an unknown British musician in his twenties, released his first solo album, Tubular Bells, a project that, two years earlier, received negative responses from several record companies for its apparent lack of commerciality. The Manor recording studio, located in the village of Shipton-on-Cherwell (Oxfordshire, England), where Oldfield worked as a session musician, trusted the young multi-instrumentalist's artistic talent and supported the making of what would become one of the most influential works in the history of contemporary music. 

According to Alern, Oldfield's first album represents “a key work of contemporary music, belonging to a time when the boundary between classical music and urban music was more blurred than ever”. 

Tubular Bells, which was awarded with the 17th Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Music, became a forthcoming musical success and an international top-seller, having sold more than 20 million copies. An example of this immediate recognition is that a small part of his music was used in the original soundtrack of William Friedkin's 1973 film, The exorcist

The public will be able to enjoy for free (limited to the capacity of the space) at the UAB Theatre a careful musical interpretation by the Opus One, without anachronisms and faithful to the spirit of the 1973 recording of the work, a fifty-minute piece of music with a classical structure, but performed with contemporary instruments. 

Oldfield was inspired by the works of various composers, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean Sibelius or Terry Riley, as well as by different styles, such as flat singing or gospel, for the composition of some parts of his famous work. Another peculiarity of Tubular Bells is that the British composer played almost all the instruments (grand piano, honky tonk, electric, acoustic and classical guitar, percussion, Farfisa organs, among others) involved in the recording. 

There are still tickets available for the concert, which can be collected at the box office the same day. If you are interested in attending the concert, it is recommended that you come just before the performance to check if there are any cancellations.

“His instrumental dexterity, as well as the beauty of his melodies and his ingenuity in mixing sonorities of different musical styles earned him the nickname of the Mozart of the 20th century”, hightlights the professor of Musicology at the UAB and creator of the musical group Opus One

Opus One is an orchestra of contemporary instruments created by Alern to pay tribute to Mike Oldfield and the fiftieth anniversary of his masterpiece. The name of the fifteen-piece ensemble is also linked to the history of this international hit. Oldfield thought that the most appropriate title for his first album should be “Opus One”, but changed his mind when he noticed some tubular bells, which he later incorporated into his project, during a recording session.

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