Moon landing in Bath

(Moon installation at Wills Hall, University of Bristol – a few years ago)

How does the song go? Fly me to the moon…? Well this festive season you won’t have to travel far to gaze – in close up – at our lunar buddy.

Actually, to be honest, the real satellite is still up there in the sky – 239, 000 miles above us. But this festive season Bath Abbey is inviting you to get much closer acquainted with Earth’s travelling companion by coming to admire Bristol artist Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon – an awe-inpsiring art installation which will be illuminating the historic building in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, Luke Jerram’s Moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally-lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface.

Another shot of the Museum of the Moon art installation in Ely Cathedral.

Over its lifetime, the Museum of the Moon has toured different venues around the world both indoors and outdoors and at each location, the viewer is offered an unique experience and personalised interpretation of the artwork. It’ll be in our city from November 20th to Christmas Eve.

As the Moon ‘lands’ right in the centre of Bath in the iconic Abbey, it will be seen in the church’s distinctive setting of honey-coloured Bath stone, intricate carvings and a magnificent fan vaulted ceiling. Visitors will also get to enjoy a series of events running alongside the installation, including lunar-themed story-telling, a ‘Cosmic Wonder’ trail and stargazing with the Bath Astronomers.

However, as this will be the lead up to one of the most significant dates in the Christian calendar, there will also be Christmas carols, concerts and services made all the more magical this year as these will take place under the Moon.

The Revd Canon Guy Bridgewater, Rector of Bath Abbey said: “We are delighted to host this inspirational artwork during Advent – the season of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, heralded by signs in the heavens. As we marvel at the beauty of the Moon and its reflected light, may Christ the true ‘Light of the world’ find welcome and wonder in our hearts.”

Jess McKenzie, Senior Visitor Experience Manager, Bath Abbey, said, “We’re delighted to welcome this touring artwork to Bath Abbey during a very special time of year for us. This Advent and Christmas, our visitors have even more to look forward to than usual. An already festive Abbey will be made even more special with this spectacular illumination. We appreciate that the Museum of the Moon as it’s illuminated from inside, is truly at its best after-dark – which is why in order to enable as many people as possible to experience the Moon in all its glory we’ve scheduled a series of events after dark.”

Another previous location for the Museum of the Moon.

On selected Sunday and Monday nights, the Abbey will stay open after hours for Moonlight Lates to give people the opportunity to experience the magic of the moon after hours in the stunning Abbey. The accompanying soundtrack created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello winner Dan Jones can also be enjoyed during these magical evenings.

As part of the Moonlight Lates, visitors can meet and interact with the Bath Astronomers and there will be a ticketed opportunity to climb the Abbey Tower for some moon and stargazing (weather dependent). Tickets for the evening will cost £6 per Adult; £3 per Child with an additional £15 per adult and £10 per child for a stargazing Tower Tour. Please note a ticket for the evening needs to be purchased prior to a Tower Tour Ticket.

For more information about the Museum of the Moon at Bath Abbey and a full schedule of accompanying events please see https://www.bathabbey.org/luke-jerrams-museum-of-the-moon/

The Bristol-based Paraorchestra will be providing one of the musical events planned to take place during the installation – courtesy of the Bath Festival.

Charles Hazlewood conducts the Paraorchestra

The event is entitled Symphony of Sorrowful Songs – with the orchestra in the centre of the nave – under the moon – while people can freely move around the abbey – observing and listening to the music from different perspectives.

Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is a cathartic and haunting piece of music, an astonishing meditation on loss and transcendence. Paraorchestra is the world’s only large scale virtuoso ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians. The concert takes place on Wednesday 8 December and will last an hour, starting at 7.30pm.

Victoria Oruwari

Sorrowful Songs will be performed with acclaimed Nigerian born soprano Victoria Oruwari. The London based singer,  has sung at international venues including the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall London. The founder of Paraorchestra, Charles Hazlewood conducts this harmonic ‘spiritual minimalist’ composition in the splendour of Bath Abbey.

Each of the three movements of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs features a Polish lament, including a message inscribed on the wall of a Gestapo prison cell from a teenage girl to her mother, and a mother’s folk song about her son lost in the Silesian civil war. Sung in Polish, it’s an evocative work that brings both tears and joy, taking audiences on an uplifting journey through grief and solace.

Charles Hazlewood, said: “After nearly two, pretty dreadful and anxiety-ridden years, Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs meets us in the current zeitgeist. You could say ‘Well let’s have some music to cheer us up, some happy music’ but it’s often more cathartic to experience music that mirrors our mood, not something that tries to change it.”

“Górecki’s symphony embodies the most intense form of loss; it’s authentic and visceral. But it also echoes somewhere we may have been in the past couple of years – or perhaps still are – and it’s my hope that it is in this achingly beautiful piece that we may find some solace and comfort.”

“And what better place to share this work than Bath Abbey? Deep within this astonishing and magical space the orchestra will be placed right in the centre of the nave, in a circle, facing inwards. Like all our projects, making orchestral music accessible and presenting it in new and unexpected ways is fundamental. So, the audience will not be seated, they will be licensed – and encouraged – to roam this vast space at will. We want to give audiences deeper agency than they get watching an orchestra on a stage.”

“You might approach the back of Victoria Oruwari, the soprano, and all you can see is her torso expanding as she breathes and sings but then looking across the circle, you’ll lock eyes with a cellist and experience a whole new level of intimacy. This audience on the move, with a perpetual sense of movement, I hope will be like a pilgrimage; a walking in witness to the suffering and grief of the world these past many months. And, of course, offering totally different sonic experience depending on where in the space you go.”

Event information and social distancing

There are no designated seats for this performance, although some seating will be available and will be marked out with a 2m distance in the corporation stall and benches. For this concert audiences can manage their own safe attendance requirements. Everyone is asked to wear a facemask (unless medically exempt) and to make space between themselves and other audience members, musicians, and staff. 

Tickets are £25 (excluding fees), with discounts for students and the under 26s, from: https://bathfestivals.org.uk/the-bath-festival/event/sorrowful-songs/

or from Bath Box Office, tel: 01225 463362.

The Bath Festival social media
Facebook: /TheBathFestival

Twitter: @TheBathFestival

Instagram: @TheBathFestival