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Duo Takes on Tubular Bells

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Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth are on tour with their Tubular Bells for Two band. Now they are in Australia, and here’s local newspaper The Heralds interview with the two. It is a great read!

IT was a cold Blue Mountains winter’s night and musicians Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth were having a few wines in front of a fire in a Katoomba house.

Roberts pulled out a vinyl recording he had bought as a teenager at an op-shop a decade earlier and said: ‘‘Remember this?’’

Holdsworth certainly did.

His parents had taped the music, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and played it when they were on long drives.

Oldfield had come up with the idea as a teenager of writing an album-length piece that used many musical styles and recording it with himself playing all the instruments.

Tubular Bells, generally described as a Celtic folk-rock epic, was recorded in England in 1973 with the backing of a record-shop owner, Richard Branson, and was the first release of a company he founded, Virgin Records.

The album was a worldwide bestseller, with about 15 million copies sold, and set 19-year-old Mike Oldfield on a successful musical career, and Branson on the path to wealth and power.  

As they listened to the recording on the cold 2008 night, Roberts and Holdsworth came up with the idea of playing it on two guitars as a concert piece. That was soon replaced by a more ambitious concept.

Oldfield had played all but three of the 20 instruments used in Tubular Bells, with the music for each instrument recorded in turn and the tracks put together.

Why couldn’t they emulate Oldfield, the Katoomba mates thought, but play all the instruments at a public performance? That was the birth ofTubular Bells for Two, a staging of the work that has the pair moving rapidly between 26 instruments carefully placed in the performance area.

 Roberts and  Holdsworth spent nine months developing the show, then gave Tubular Bells for Two its first staging at the intimate theatre in Katoomba’s Clarendon Guesthouse on Good Friday in 2009. They picked that date because they thought it would be a quiet night and they only expected a few friends to attend. In the event, the show played to a packed house of more than 100 people, and has become a hit internationally.

Read it here.