Middlebury’s Carillon Series rings in 33 years this summer

The beautiful sounds of ringing bells will fill the air again this summer, as the 33rd 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.
This year’s series began on Friday, July 6 with a performance by Sergei Gratchev, Carillonneur for the Middlebury Russian School and City Carillonneur in Hulst, Netherlands.
A special highlight of the year is performer Tiffany Ng’s July 27 world premiere of “Resonant Memories” by composer Matthew Schreibeis, Assistant Professor of Music at Hong Kong Baptist University and recent winner of an American Academy of Arts & Letters Music Award. Keep your eyes peeled because the composer may be in attendance.
The Carillon Series is organized by Middlebury College Carillonneur George Matthew, Jr. with support from the Mahaney Center for the Arts. For more information, call (802) 443-3168 or visit middlebury.edu/arts.
2018 Carillon Series Schedule
Friday, July 13 at 6 p.m.
Hans Uwe Hielscher, Carillonneur and Organist, Marktkirche Hess, Germany.
Friday, July 20 at 6 p.m.
George Matthew Jr., Carillonneur, Middlebury College and Norwich University.
Friday, July 27 at 6 p.m.
Tiffany Ng, Assistant Professor of Carillon and University Carillonist, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; North American Carillon School faculty.
Friday, Aug. 3 at 6 p.m.
Elena Sadina, Instructor, Middlebury College Russian School and Royal Carillon School, Mechelen, Belgium.
Friday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m.
Amy Heebner ’93, City Carillonneur, Albany, N.Y.
Friday, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m.
George Matthew Jr., Carillonneur, Middlebury College and Norwich University.
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, New York. 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. 27 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!”

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