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The BBC's Emma Howard
"One big musical venue"
 real 28k

Friday, 26 May, 2000, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
BBC Music Live events unfold
Jools Holland
Jools Holland kicks off the festival in Swansea
Britain's biggest music festival, BBC Music Live, has got under way after its launch in Swansea with music presenter and jazz pianist Jools Holland.

The five-day event features more than 6,000 concerts and 250 street festivals at locations around the UK.

On Friday, events included a "silent" gig at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, where the audience listened to band Rocket Goldstar plus various DJs, through headphones.

Sir Elton John, Tony Bennett, Paul Weller and violinist Nigel Kennedy are among the big names taking part in events for the festival which comes at a time when many are concerned at the decline of music tuition in schools.

David Bowie
Bowie: donated a saxophone to the instrument amnesty appeal

Other highlights include the first performance of Bernstein's Mass for 20 years from Cardiff on Saturday for Radio 3, to a live Top of The Pops from Sheffield Arena on Monday.

The festival will include a 24-hour music programme marathon on BBC One and BBC Two, culminating at 2200 BST on Monday with a mass rendition of the Lou Reed song, Perfect Day, to be broadcast on all BBC services.

A key part of the festival is an instrument amnesty - an appeal for people to donate unused instruments which can then be made available to children.

Many stars have already donated instruments towards the appeal, including Sir Elton John who gave a keyboard, Bob Geldof who donated a harmonica, and Irish pop trio B*Witched who offered some finger-cymbals.

The event's organisers want as many people as possible to join in with Music Live.

It comes at a time when many are concerned about the decline of music tuition in schools.

Music Live events
Radio 1 will be hosting two rooftop concerts by two mystery bands
Paul Weller leads a host of acts at the legendary Abbey Road studios for BBC London Live 94.9 on Monday
Sir Elton John performs from Woburn Abbey on Radio 2 on Monday
BBC Radio 3 presents an all-night performance of Erik Satie's piano marathon, The Vexations

Christine Koker of the National Foundation for Youth Music said: "Out of the 10 million or so young children around the country, only about five to 10% of those are actually playing music at the moment learning an instrument."

Controller of the Proms, Nicholas Kenyon, says the event will encourage more people to make music as well as listen to it.

"It is more difficult than it has been in the past for kids to learn an instrument as a normal part of their education," he said.

"What the BBC is saying with this music live festival is there is a chance for every kid in the country to become involved in music."

Music Live has the backing of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said it "should touch and involve us all".

Click here for the BBC Music Live website, which contains full details of events taking place during the festival.

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See also:

30 Mar 00 | Entertainment
BBC launches live music fest
12 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Stars instrumental in Music Live
30 Mar 00 | Education
Plea for unwanted instruments
23 May 00 | Entertainment
BBC plans Perfect Day
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