Monday, August 16, 2010

Carol On

Stu's public radio work-friend Mark, who came along kayaking two weekends ago, did a really nice short bit earlier in the summer on the Harkness Tower carillon on campus here. I recommend a listen, here. And with the video link on that page you can hear what a Ray Charles number sounds like on an eight-octave bell tower.

The carillon is back in business after being closed for repairs most of the academic year. The university carilloneurs club -- it's an undergraduate organization -- managed to obtain funding to rent a mobile carillon on a truck. It looked like a compact console in a bathroom-sized pod, with the bells arranged all around it and visible through a glass (or maybe plexiglass) enclosure. Over the winter it was parked in a lot by the science building, a block away from my apartment. One of the more interesting concerts I attended last year involved hanging out after work in that parking lot, after sundown in the middle of December, drinking the hot chocolate the carilloneurs provided. A uniquely satisfying experience, albeit a freezing cold one. I'm glad to have the actual carillon back in the city's soundscape.

As the radio bit notes, the carillon as an instrument is 500 years old this year, by some measure or another. They're Dutch in extraction, which perhaps explains some of my natural affinity for them. Happy birthday, carillons! New Haven would not be the same without you.

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Also on the topic of unconventional Dutch instrumenture, you owe it to yourself to read New Haven music blogger Dan Johnson and become acquainted with the Museum Speelklok, of Utrecht.


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