The ringing of bells can invoke a form of clarity. To hear bells is to be reminded of ancient things ~ monasteries, cathedrals, bell towers. The looped voices that begin midway through “Bolshoy” come across as Buddhist chants, while the lighter chimes seem like prayer bells. This is a time to pray for the world, but also to hope. Recalling these ancient things puts us in touch with prior generations, reminding us that most things pass, even terrible things, and that enlightenment comes and goes in waves. The surf drone of the opening piece recalls the tides, expanding the idea to millennia.
The sound of a single bell can cut through an awful lot of noise. This is why bells have been used in everything from timekeeping to calling children home for dinner. The New Year’s bell is a celebration of time’s markers, as well as a propulsion to hope. On the cusp of the new year, we look back, reflect, try to forget some things while memorializing others. The tolling of the bells in “Lent” lasts far past 12, but is the best reminder of the moment that will herald the new year from Tonga to Times Square. (By the time Europe enters 2018, half of the world will already have gone to bed; for a brief period, Planet Earth will live in two separate years. There’s a good chance you’re reading this article in 2017 while others are living in the future.)
Will a single voice of clarity cut through the din in the new year? It’s entirely possible. Such voices exist, and are speaking even now. By “Hymn of the Rose”, the bells have grown contemplative and clear, the loudness of the church bell replaced by the melody of multiple bells. This is the way that a movement begins. Might the world wake up from its madness in the new year? Hope springs eternal. This is why we gather this evening in churches, squares and homes; why we lift our eyes upward to the clocks and lights and balls, why dragons dance and confetti falls from wide open windows, even in the cold. We have not given up. Even in this era of “post-truth”, truth rings like a bell.
A Happy New Year to all and a huge thanks to Lingua Lustra and Shimmering Moods for providing us with this gentle, fitting score. (Richard Allen)