University of Rochester

Carillon Recitals Feature Music from Classical Period to American Swing

June 6, 2011

Beginning Monday, July 11, the Hopeman Memorial Carillon at the University of Rochester will feature music from around the world played by performers from around the world. The recital series will include the music of Leopold Mozart, George Gershwin, as well as contemporary music and music written specifically for the carillon. Soloists from Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States will play the imposing instrument in four free, outdoor concerts, every Monday at 7p.m. at the Eastman Quadrangle on the River Campus, come rain or shine.

Housed in Rush Rhees Library, the Hopeman Memorial Carillon is one of only seven traditional carillons in New York State. The instrument consists of 50 bells that were cast in bronze in 1973 by the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry of Asten in the Netherlands and weighs 3 tons.

The carillon (pronounced CARE-ru-lon, and its players are called carillonneurs) originated in Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France, in church towers of little mercantile towns. It helped mark the time every quarter hour, and the town carillonneur was called upon to play on holidays. A carillon is made of at least 23 bells, and operates much like a piano with a keyboard and pedals. But instead of striking keys, the player depresses wooden batons to create a ringing and majestic sound.

Performers for the upcoming concert series include Kasia Piastowka and Toru Takao, a duo from Poland and Japan, respectively; Karel Keldermans, full-time carillonneur for the Springfield Park District in Springfield, Ill., and co-author of an acclaimed book on carillons; Gordon Slater, now retired from the position of Dominion Carillonneur of Canada after 31 years of service playing the Peace Tower Carillon in Ottawa; and Sharon Hettinger, carillonneur at the University of Kansas.

Each program will begin at 7 p.m., rain or shine, and will last about an hour. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring folding chairs, books and blankets to enjoy the music from the Eastman Quadrangle. Following the concert, attendees will be able to meet each performer on the library steps. The performance schedule is as follows:

  • July 11: Toru Takao and Kasia Piastowska
  • July 18: Karel Keldermans
  • July 25: Gordon Slater
  • August 1: Sharon Hettinger

For more information, contact Joe Hanson,, or visit