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Music is Ringing Out This Summer!

One of the largest musical instruments is also among the most public. WRTI’s Susan Lewis considers carillons and their bells, which are ringing out in summer concert series all over the greater Philadelphia region.   

Listen to Susan Lewis' radio story on the history of the carillon.

Radio Script:

Susan Lewis: A carillon is a set of large cast bronze bells suspended on a frame, usually at the top of a tall partially enclosed tower. 

Janet Tebbel: I love being up here because of all these big bells.

SL: Janet Tebbel is carillonneur at First United Methodist Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

JT: We have five bells that are bigger than the Liberty Bell. Our fifth bell is the size of the Liberty Bell. Each bell clapper is connected by a wire through the flooring, if any, to a what looks somewhat like an organ console.

SL: But the keys, instead of ivories, are wooden handles called batons, and they’re not played with the fingertips, says Lisa Lonie, carillonneur at Princeton University and at St. Thomas Church, Whitemarsh, in suburban Philadelphia.

Lisa Lonie: They’re struck with a closed fist or an open hand. The lower bells, which might be a little more difficult because you’re moving a clapper that might be about five or 600 pounds, are played with the feet.

When you watch a carillonneur play, it's not particularly pretty...the hands are flying, the feet are going at a rapid...but it’s a really beautiful instrument from the ground.

SL: On the ground is where the listeners are, and carillon recitals are inevitably open air events. This summer, recitals are taking place at Princeton,  First Methodist Church in Germantown, St. Thomas Whitemarsh and Valley Forge.

Summer Carillon Concerts in our Region:

Fort Washington, St.Thomas Church, Whitemarsh, Catherine Colt Dickey Memorial Carillon
Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.
Other performing artists follow the carillon recital at 8:00 p.m.
July 7, Koen and Florian Cosaert
July 14, Leonard Weiss
July 2, Roy Kroezen
July 28, Hunter Chase, GCNA Class of 2014 Recitalist
August 4, Lisa Lonie

Philadelphia, First United Methodist Church of Germantown, Shelmerdine Memorial Carillon
June 29, 7:30 p.m., Lisa Lonie and Janet Tebbel, carillon duet
July 6, 7:30 p.m., Koen Cosaert, Florian Cosaert
July 13, 7:30 p.m., Leonard Weiss
July 20, 7:30 p.m., Roy Kroezen

Valley Forge, Washington Memorial Chapel, Washington Memorial National Carillon
Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
July 1, Doug Gefvert
July 8, Koen Cosaert
July 15, Leonard Weiss
July 22, Roy Kroezen
July 29, Hunter Chase
August 5, Margaret Pan
August 12, Music of the British Isles - Doug Gefvert and Irish Thunder Pipes and Drums
August 19, Jesse Ratcliffe
August 26, Ellen Dickinson

Princeton, Princeton University, Grover Cleveland Tower, The Class of 1892 Bells
Sundays at 1:00 p.m.
July 6, Koen and Florian Cosaert
July 12, Leonard Weiss
July 19, Roy Kroezen
July 26, Hunter Chase, GCNA Class of 2014 Recitalist
August 2, Margaret Pan
August 9, Lisa Lonie (Karaoke Carillon)
August 16, Buck Lyon-Vaiden
August 23, Ellen Dickinson
August 30, Janet Tebbel and Lisa Lonie

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.