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Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Over 4,000 people follow live concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells"

18 May 2023
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A total of 4,526 people entered the UAB's YouTube channel to follow the streaming of the concert by the Opus One orchestra in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, recorded at the Alba Light Synchrotron on 25 May at 9 p.m. The number of people viewing the concert online represents an absolute record number of people connected live to the UAB YouTube channel.

Concert Tubular Bells al Sincrotró ALBA

Coproduced by the UAB and Opus One, the concert included the collaboration of the ALBA Synchrotron facility in order to create a unique atmosphere combining science and art under an unrivalled setting.

On 25 May at 9 p.m. (GMT+2), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona broadcast free and open for the whole world on its YouTube channel a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the album Tubular Bells by British musician Mike Oldfield, interpreted by the Opus One orchestra, directed by Xavier Alern.

The event, co-produced by the UAB and Opus One, included the collaboration of the ALBA Synchrotron facility in order to create a unique atmosphere combining science and art under an unrivalled setting.

A modern music classic

On 25 May 1973, Mike Oldfield, then an unknown British musician in his early twenties, released Tubular Bells, his first solo album, a project that two years earlier had been rejected by several record companies because of its apparent lack of commerciality. The Manor recording studio, where Oldfield worked as a session musician, relied on his artistic talent and the work became the first release of Richard Branson's Virgin Records, and went on to become one of the most influential records in the history of contemporary music.

According to Professor Alern, Oldfield's first album represents "a key work in contemporary music, which belongs to a time when the frontier between cultured music and urban music was more imprecise than ever". Tubular Bells, which has sold more than 20 million copies, was also part of the original soundtrack of William Friedkin's 1973 film The Exorcist.

Another peculiarity of Tubular Bells is that the British composer played almost all of the instruments (grand piano, honky-tonk piano, electric, acoustic and classical guitars, drums, Farfisa organs, etc. ) used in the recording: "His astonishing instrumental skills, as well as the beauty of his melodies and his expertise in mixing sounds of different musical styles, earned him the nickname of the Mozart of the 20th century", emphasises the UAB lecturer in Musicology.

The Opus One project

Opus One is a musical group of contemporary instruments made up of seventeen musicians, including several lecturers and alumni of the UAB, and promoted by Xavier Alern to pay homage to Mike Oldfield and the 50th anniversary of his masterpiece. The name of the musical group is related to the original title of the album, but Oldfield changed his mind when he noticed some tubular bells during a recording session, which he later incorporated into his project.  

Xavier Alern's proposal consisted of offering an accurate interpretation of Tubular Bells, without anachronisms and with the utmost respect for the spirit of the mythical 1973 recording.

Following this premiere, Opus One will embark on a world tour that will begin on 13 June with a concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, where they will perform this and other works by Mike Oldfield, with the participation of Scottish singer Maggie Reilly, known for her collaborations with Mike Oldfield.

For more information please visit:

UAB YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/uabbarcelona

Opus One: https://www.opusone.cat/