Dear readers: I am so remiss in not reporting on an important set of Chicago bells that it is downright embarrassing. And it is also embarrassing that I haven’t posted for a while on this blog. My apologies on both counts.
The bells I should have written about months and months ago are those in the carillon of St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church. I play on this carillon regularly! Naturally, I am well acquainted with the instrument and the fine folks at the church that have welcomed me into their congregation.
These 43 bells are true gems. They are Gillett & Johnston bells cast in 1926 and have a remarkable rich tone. The carillon still has the original keyboard from its installation in 1927—a European standard (not many of those in North America, and if not exactly a European standard, very close to it). No excuse for being unprepared for those European carillon concerts now.
The carillon was donated by Richard T. Crane, Jr. in memory of his father, who made his fortune in Chicago manufacturing metal products for plumbing and heating systems.
I’ve had the great pleasure to play there on Sundays and for weddings and funerals for over a year now. Richard Hoskins, the music director, graciously allowed me to play as a guest a couple of years ago, and with the growth in interest and enthusiasm in the carillon, the sound of bells has now become a regular part of the church’s musical soundscape. My friend and colleague, Jim Fackenthal, also plays the carillon here regularly.
In August 2016, we were very pleased to host Mathieu Polak from the Netherlands in concert. Despite the persistent rain, we had a great turnout of enthusiasts who enjoyed ice cream with the music. Marvelous performance, Mathieu!
The carillon is in great hands with this staff and congregation. The church community greatly values extraordinary music in worship and concert, as their Sunday services and secular concerts attest to. The carillon will continue to add to its already stellar music and community scene.