At three-and-a-half tons, the Hopeman Memorial Carillon is Rochester's largest musical instrument. The celestial sounds of its bells are produced 189 feet above the ground, in the landmark tower of the University of Rochester's Rush Rhees Library on the River Campus. This summer, the public can enjoy the sounds of the carillon in a series of free concerts featuring soloists from Europe and the United States.
The Hopeman Memorial Carillon Summer Recital Series kicks off on Monday, July 10, and continues over the next four Mondays. Each program, ranging from classical and popular music to compositions written specifically for the carillon, will begin at 7 p.m., rain or shine, and last about an hour.
The carillon is an instrument of tuned bells controlled by a keyboard. It evolved in the mid-16th century in Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France, where its installation in grand towers was a source of civic pride and status.
Performing on the University of Rochester's carillon are Anne Kroeze, a prize-winning carillonneur and organist from the Netherlands, on July 10; Linda Dzuris, who in 1999 was appointed the first University Carillonneur at Clemson University, on July 17; Charles Dairay, a French carillonneur who has won prizes in several international competitions, on July 24; Dutch carillonneur Carlo van Ulft, currently director of the Centralia Carillon in Illinois, on July 31; and, concluding the series on Aug. 7, area resident Doris Aman, who has performed on carillons at Alfred University and at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The carillon in Rush Rhees tower consists of 50 stationary cast bronze bells that are sounded by clappers. Thin metal rods connect the clappers to wooden keys or pedals. The carillonneur sits on a bench and plays by depressing the baton-like keys with loosely clenched fists. The pedals, connected to the heavier bass bells, are depressed with the feet.
The bells in Rush Rhees tower are played on special occasions such as Convocation-the ceremony marking the beginning of the academic year-and Commencement. They are also controlled by an electronic clock and playing mechanism to automatically strike a chime every quarter hour.
Concertgoers should bring blankets, lawn chairs, picnic baskets, and even a book to read and can sit anywhere on the Eastman Quadrangle in front of the library to enjoy the music. Listeners will be able to meet each performer on the library steps following the concert.
The Hopeman Memorial Carillon Summer Recital Series is sponsored by the Department of Music. For more information about the concerts, contact (585) 275-2828. For information about the carillon, or to hear the bells online, go to www.rochester.edu/aboutus/carillon/.