The opening event of MIF19, Bells for Peace will follow the success of What Is the City but the People? from the 2017 festival, in which the people of Manchester presented a self-portrait of themselves and the place that they live.
MIF19’s opening event will see Yoko Ono invite the people of Manchester to join in Cathedral Gardens to ring in a message of peace to the world. From hand bells to bicycle bells, thousands of celebratory bells from home and abroad will join in ringing and singing out for peace, and to welcome the world to Manchester.
In her invitation, Yoko Ono says “People of Manchester (and beyond), come and join together to send a message of peace to the world. Bring a bell to Cathedral Gardens at 6pm on Thursday 4 July and join our call for peace.
The bell is a beautiful sound, a peaceful sound and that’s why it’s desperately needed now. More than ever we must come together to heal each other, and the world.
The beauty of this piece will break the sky and more. Ring for peace! PEACE is POWER. I love you all”
In the run-up to the event, Manchester International Festival have been inviting members of the public to take part in a series of workshops to make their own unique bells to bring to the event.
This commission follows the release of Yoko Ono’s new version of John Lennon’s Imagine in 2018. The newly recorded version of the peace anthem features on her most recent album Warzone and incorporates a new arrangement of ambient tones and Ono’s distinctive speak-song style vocals.
2019 also marks fifty years since the bed-in protests for peace that she made with Lennon. Bells For Peace is also set to feature bell sculptures by Ono as around 8000 members of the public join in solidarity to form an orchestra of bells welcoming people to the festival.
Yoko Ono said: “The beauty of this piece will break the sky and more. One of the reasons this is very different is the fact that all of us will be making the sound together. More than ever, we must come together to heal each other, and the world.“
Yoko Ono has been among the world’s most renowned artists for more than 50 years. Bells for Peace will be the first major work that she has created for the city of Manchester.