Middlebury College Carillon Series to ring in summer
MIDDLEBURY — The beautiful sounds of ringing bells will fill the air again this summer, as the 30th annual Middlebury College Carillon Series treats audiences to free performances in and around Mead Memorial Chapel.
Each year, musicians from around the world come to Middlebury to perform in the chapel’s soaring tower, high above the college campus. All of the concerts are free and open to the public, and can be enjoyed on the steps of Mead Chapel or on the surrounding lawns. This year’s 30th anniversary season is included in the Vermont Arts Council’s 2015 Year of the Arts “Anniversary Club.”
The 2015 carillon concert schedule is as follows:
• George Matthew Jr., carillonneur, Middlebury College and Norwich University: Friday, July 3, 5 p.m.
• Gordon Slater, Canadian dominion carillonneur emeritus: Friday, July 10, 5 p.m.
• Language Schools Centennial Celebration kickoff, an all-Beethoven program by George Matthew Jr.: Wednesday, July 15, at 5 p.m.
• John Widmann, municipal carillonneur, Frederick, Md.: Friday, July 17, at 5 p.m.
• Sergei Gratchev, instructor and carillonneur in Hulst, Netherlands, and the Middlebury Russian School: Friday, July 24, 5 p.m.
• Elena Sadina, instructor, Middlebury College Russian School and Royal Carillon School, Mechelen, Belgium: Friday, July 31, at 5 p.m.
• Tatiana Lukyanova, carillonneur, First Church of Christ Congregational, New Britain, Conn.: Friday, Aug. 7, at 5 p.m.
• Commencement prelude by George Matthew Jr.: Friday, Aug. 14, at 4 p.m. (The carillon bells will announce the start of Middlebury’s 100th Language School commencement procession.)
About Middlebury’s Carillon
A carillon is a musical instrument typically housed in the bell tower of a church or other municipal building. Its sound is produced by at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to produce a melody, or sounded together to play a chord.
The carillonneur plays by striking a keyboard with black and white keys and foot pedals that can help produce different kinds of sound. Each key is connected by wire to a bell clapper so different bells are rung depending on which key is struck.
It is a 75-step climb up to Mead Memorial Chapel’s bell tower. With 48 bells, Middlebury’s instrument is considered a traditional carillon.
The pitch of Middlebury’s heaviest bell is E in the middle octave. It weighs 2,300 pounds, roughly the same as the Liberty Bell.
In 1915, the instrument was begun with 11 bells by the Meneely bell foundry in Watervliet, N.Y. Nine bells remain from that work.
In 1986, the instrument was enlarged to its present size with bells made by Paccard-Fonderie des Cloches in Annecy, France. The enhanced carillon was presented in 1986 as a gift from then-Chairman of the Board of Trustees Allen Dragone ’50 and his wife Jane. Twenty-seven bells remain from that work.
In 2001, 12 bells were recast or replaced by Meeks & Watson of Georgetown, Ohio.
One of the bells in Middlebury’s carillon is inscribed with the following quote by Lord Alfred Tennyson: “Ring in the valiant man and free the larger heart, the kindlier hand! Ring out the darkness of the land, ring in the Christ that is to be!”
The carillon series is organized by Middlebury College Organist and Professor Emeritus of Music Emory Fanning and Middlebury College Carillonneur George Matthew Jr.
All performances take place at Mead Memorial Chapel, located on the campus of Middlebury College at 75 Hepburn Road. Free parking is available on Route 125/College Street, and on Old Chapel Road. In the case of inclement weather, the concerts will still take place, and audiences are welcome to listen from the chapel steps and front landing.