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Lennon’s Imagine to be Played on Liverpool Cathedral Bells

Naturally a few people are complaining about John Lennon’s song with its atheist lyrics being played in the Cathedral but my only complaint is that Futuresonic who we love for their ‘leading-edge digital art, design and music’ have resorted to playing an old tune by the former Beatle on church bells! Maybe there’s a secret ingredient (I hope).

Creative coup for Futuresonic festival as Imagine to be played across Liverpool on world’s highest and heaviest peal of bells

Futuresonic, the North West’s festival of leading-edge digital art, design and music, will be bringing a world premiere to Liverpool this spring in partnership with Liverpool Cathedral.

After months of careful negotiation and planning, Futuresonic has commissioned installation artist Cleo Evans to conduct the bell-ringers of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in a unique performance of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ on the Cathedral’s world famous bells in mid-May.

Rehearsals on hand bells will commence in March, but details of the specific time and date of the inaugural public performance remain firmly under wraps.

Liverpool Cathedral has the highest and heaviest ringing peal bells in the world. With thirteen bells arranged around ‘Great George’, a central ringing bell which weighs over 14 tons, they can be heard for miles around. This means the proposed rendition of one of Lennon’s most celebrated songs is set to become a simultaneous and collective city-wide experience.

Festival Director Drew Hemment, who founded Futuresonic in 1995, said of the forthcoming event:

“Over the last 14 years we’ve grown from being a niche festival for digital culture in Manchester to a festival for everybody’s culture across the North West.

“After experiencing Liverpool’s appetite for diverse and engaging artworks during Capital of Culture, such as the enthusiasm for La Machine’s spider, we started to look seriously at what world-class premieres Futuresonic could bring to the city, both this year and in the future.

“When the idea of John Lennon’s Imagine being ‘broadcast’ over church bells was suggested by Cleo I realised that it had to happen in Liverpool and the Anglican Cathedral would be the ideal partner.

“The Cathedral’s support for the project has been fantastic and reflects this city’s famous tolerance and courage. This special event celebrates the unique spirit of Liverpool that runs through both the Cathedral and Lennon’s secular message.”

A spokesman from the Cathedral said: “The request to have Imagine played on the Cathedral bells as part of this year’s Futuresonic festival was, from the very beginning, a challenging proposal technically but we have a great bell ringing team here and we obviously took into consideration sensitivities surrounding the song’s lyrical content.

“The Cathedral has been very much at the heart of the city’s Capital of Culture celebrations and is delighted to embrace the city’s artistic energy.  The proposed performance will inspire thought as it yearns for peace in a broken and troubled world.

“We also anticipate that the performance will be a very moving and spiritual experience and will engage with all people including those who do not usually interact with places of worship.”

With Futuresonic’s reputation for leading edge creativity and use of contemporary technology, Drew is aware that a musical performance on church bells that are over a century old may seem unusual to some.

“We are leading the way in opening up new forms of culture that might involve the technologies of tomorrow, or in this case that involve a musical technology that is thousands of years old. Our role is to give it a twist and to make it relevant to people’s lives” he said.

Further details of Imagine at Liverpool Cathedral will be released nearer the performance. More information about this year’s Futuresonic, which takes place May 13- 16, can be found at