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Summer carillon series brings internationally acclaimed performers to Rochester

June 10, 2015
people in lawnchairs on the quad in front of Rush RheesFree carillon concerts are back this summer, with music from top performers from around the world every Monday in July. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

On Monday, July 6, the University of Rochester will begin its annual summer carillon series with a performance from award-winning carillonneur Joey Brink. The concert is the first of four free outdoor shows that will take place during the month of July on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. on the Eastman Quad on River Campus.

This year marks the 42nd year since the Hopeman Memorial Carillon was installed atop Rush Rhees Library. Shortly after that time, professional touring carillonneurs began to stop in Rochester to perform popular musical compositions written specifically for the carillon, a musical instrument composed of at least 23 bells and played from a touch sensitive console.

“The carillon is an iconic symbol of the University,” said James Warlick, manager of music performance programs for the College Music Department. “Its sound has become very familiar to so many people.” Installed in 1973, the University’s 50 hand-cast bronze bells were imported from the Royal Eijsbouts Bellfoundry of Asten in the Netherlands to replace the original 17 that were in use since 1930. It is one of only seven carillons in New York State.

“Most students think that the bells are electronic,” said Doris Aman, coordinator of the Carillon Society and instructor of the University’s carillon class. Unlike a piano, which is played using the fingers, the carillon is played by tossing the keys with the fists. Each year, students from both the Carillon Society and Aman’s carillon class perform modern and classical pieces two to four times per week to commemorate holidays, events, and for the benefit of the community.

However, due to time, usage, and exposure to the fluctuating temperatures of Rochester, the carillon requires consistent maintenance to keep the bells at their best. This is why the University and the Carillon Society are currently involved in a restoration project to keep the bells ringing.

“The carillon is a machine in addition to an instrument,” Aman said. Basic tune-ups occur annually, but major maintenance, such as realigning bells, replacing rusted bolts, and torn straps, is necessary after 30 to 40 years.

By exposing the Rochester community to the talented musicians and sounds of the carillon bells, Aman hopes to inspire support for and appreciation of the carillon’s importance to the University and to the city of Rochester.

“I think the carillon is a way to bring people together in a way that you don’t usually hear about,” said Hannah Vary, a freshman carillon student and member of Carillon Society. “It’s something that everyone has in common – it’s like a unifying force for students every time we play.”

Performer Schedule:

  • Monday, July 6

Joey Brink, a graduate of Yale University and two-time winner of the International Queen Fabiola Carillon Competition in Mechelen, Belgium. He is a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America and currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife, carillonneur Vera Brink. In 2015, he received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah after being named a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow in 2013.

  • Monday, July 13

Roy Kroezen studied organ at the Arnhem Conservatory and carillon at the Netherlands Carillon School in Amersfoort where he received a master’s degree of music in 2009. Kroezen is currently carilloneur of Zwolle, Arnhem and Hoogeveen in the Netherlands, organist in Hilversum at the Apostolic Society, and choir conductor of the Baroque Choir in Zwolle.

  • Monday, July 20

Lee Cobb holds a master’s degree of music in organ performance from the University of Florida and is currently an instructor for the North American Carillon School. As a composer, he has published numerous original compositions and arrangements for the carillon, and he received 2nd place for his “Sonata” by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.

  • Monday, July 27

Sue Bergren has a master’s degree in organ performance from Northern Illinois University and is currently the principal organist at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. Bergren also serves on the board of directors for the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, is a co-editor for the guild’s newsletter, and runs a small publishing company for carillon music.

The Hopeman Memorial Carillon Summer Recital Series is sponsored by the University’s Department of Music on the River Campus. Attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs, blankets, and picnics to enjoy during the performance. The musicians will play music from the bell tower atop Rush Rhees Library and are not visible from the lawn, but attendees will have the opportunity to meet the performers following the shows.

In addition to the concert series, a new exhibit, titled from Chime to Carillon, will be on display in Rush Rhees Library Q&i throughout the month of July for visitors to learn more about the origins and evolution of the University’s carillon.

For more information on the upcoming series, contact (585) 275-2828. For additional information about the carillon, to hear the bells online, or for more on the current restoration project visit www.rochester.edu/aboutus/carillon/.

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Category: The Arts