carillon

Hyde Parkers gather on the east lawn of Rockefeller Chapel for a carillon concert.

Ring those bells! The 79th annual Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) will convene for five days at the University of Chicago, beginning June 15. 

A carillon is a large instrument composed of a set of bells in a tower controlled by a keyboard, played by musicians known as carillonneurs. The U. of C.'s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave., has one such carillon. 

The congress is hosted by U. of C. carillonist Joey Brink and Rockefeller Chapel event manager Mike Boyman, and will feature a weekend of free concerts open to the public. According to Brink, more than 150 carillonneurs are expected to attend.

This year’s congress coincides with the 90th anniversary of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon, which was installed in the summer of 1932. 

"As a longtime member of the GCNA, I am thrilled to be hosting a congress to celebrate the anniversary of the Rockefeller Carillon," said Brink.

Founded in 1936, the GCNA convenes annually at carillons across the continent to perform concerts of traditional and contemporary music, as well as present research and historical studies. This is the third congress hosted by the U. of C., the first two having occurred in 1953 and 1977.

The congress will kick off on June 15, with a 5 p.m. concert at Rockefeller Chapel, free and open to the public

Throughout the weekend, presentations exploring the history and modern use of the carillon will take place at the U. of C. International House, 1414 E. 59 St., followed by musical performances in the afternoon and evenings at the chapel. 

Featured presentations include “A Century of Women and the Carillon,” “Differences in Traditional vs. Modern Bell Casting Techniques” and “A Case Study of Carillon Growth in Ukraine.”

On June 17, the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry, a Virginia-based traditional bell foundry, will debut their newest creation, a mobile carillon. The inaugural performance of the instrument, the first of its kind in North America, will take place at 8 p.m. in the chapel. 

On June 18, Iowa State University will play a 1.5 scale model of the university’s bell tower on the main steps of Rockefeller Chapel at 2 p.m.

You can view the full weekend of public events here.

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