Did you hear the bells? Why churches will ring together every night

The experience is completely new and has surely surprised more than one. This Thursday at the end of the day, the ringing of bells was heard simultaneously or almost in different districts of Nantes, to the hypercentre. At 6.32 p.m. sharp, the bell towers of the All-Aids church in the East and Sainte-Anne in the West woke up first, gradually plunging the City of the Dukes into the Christmas spirit. The powerful sound then traveled through the city, from building to building, before the ringing was heard from the side of the Loire. “What is going on, wonders a group of girlfriends, at the foot of the Sainte-Croix church. Is there a wedding at this time or what? »

No way for these bells, which will ring for about twenty minutes every evening until January 1, to celebrate a union or even to tell the time. This Thursday, they rather signaled the launch of the first edition of Voyage en hiver. On the occasion of the cultural event, the contemporary artist Dominique Blais has indeed imagined this “sound journey” by reactivating the bells of Nantes churches, some of which were no longer used to or even able to play.

The Loire reverberates the sound

In total, this surprising concert is served thanks to eleven churches, without forgetting the castle which was chosen to replace the cathedral, prevented from ringing because of the fire. Nine bells have thus been renovated at the initiative of Voyage à Nantes, and six buildings have been equipped with a sound system. On several bridges too, loudspeakers have been installed to pick up the ringtones of the nearest churches. “Amplification devices directed towards the surface of the water act as a mirror to reverberate the sound,” explains Dominique Blais. If you stand on the bridges, you can really feel it coming from outside and getting closer. »

Every evening, “this wave that crosses the neighborhoods following the contradictory courses of the river” must be preceded by a few notes, at 5:18 p.m. We warn you: you will have to listen carefully and go beyond the ambulance sirens or other noises of the city to distinguish them, and in particular the two types of sounds played in this “score”: the ringing (produced by a hammer on a motionless bell) and volleys (the bell, this time, swings). To make the most of it, you can for example position yourself in one of the pedestrian streets of the Bouffay district, between the churches of Sainte-Croix and Saint-Nicolas. Dominique Blais also advises to “go along the Loire on foot or by bike” for a “feeling of strangeness”.

According to public feedback, this sound work should be presented for five years during the same period, on the occasion of the next editions of Voyage en hiver.

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