Bonanza of bells to sound start of Olympics
LONDON, England (AP) — The Olympic rings are already all over London. And today, there will be some 40 chimes of Olympic ringing coming from one of the capital's most recognisable landmarks.
For three minutes, Big Ben — Britain's iconic clock tower — will bong to celebrate the first day of the London Olympics, kicking off a day of celebration that will culminate in a flashy opening ceremony.
Bells will ring there, too — Queen Elizabeth II will officially open the Games at the ceremony with the sound of a 27-ton bell forged at the 442-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which also made London's Big Ben.
Before the monarch sounds the chime, Big Ben and thousands of other bells will ring across Britain from 8:12 a.m. to 8:15 am as part of Turner Prize-winning musician Martin Creed's All the Bells commission for the arts festival that accompanies the Games.
"Bells are the loudest instruments, and so I thought to do a work in public using bells, trying to make a sort of public piece of music that could be heard everywhere, you know, across the whole city and kind of across the whole country," Creed told The Associated Press.
People across their country were encouraged to take part, either with a real bell or an app created by organisers for the occasion.
Creed said that the idea is to ring the bells as quickly and loudly as possible so they can be heard the most.
"There's no point in trying to be subtle about it," he explained. "It's a very simple, little idea."
Olympic organisers have said they believe today will mark the first time that Big Ben's 13.5 ton bell has been rung outside its regular schedule since 1952, when it tolled 56 times for King George VI's funeral, once for every year of his life.
Big Ben, completed in 1858, houses a four-faced chiming clock and the famed 13.5 ton Big Ben bell. Over the years, people began calling the whole tower Big Ben.