Kindred Spirits

Up in Quebec, kindred spirits–Daniel Désormiers, Steffen Jowett, François Mathieu, and Michael Rowan–are also advocating for tower bells. A few quotes struck me. Rev. G. Malcolm Sinclair of the Metropolitan United in downtown Toronto says, “Instead of people saying, ‘We are part of this community, and the church speaks for us,’” soon, he says, the sentiment willContinue reading “Kindred Spirits”

St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Chicago, IL

St. James Episcopal Cathedral in the Near North Side Chicago neighborhood is known for its exquisite choir and organ music. Not surprisingly, they complete their sacral soundscape with bells. The talented and gracious Stephen Buzzard, the organist and choirmaster, showed me around one afternoon. The chimestand for the ten-bell chime was replaced many years agoContinue reading “St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Chicago, IL”

Buddhist Temple of Chicago

On Nirvana Day, the annual Buddhist festival that recalls the death of the Buddha and his attainment of Nirvana, I visited the Buddhist Temple of Chicago. Bill Bohlman and Rev. Patti Nakai warmly welcomed us. Tom Corbett rang the kansho (bell) before the service and kindly allowed us to film him. The Buddhist tradition usesContinue reading “Buddhist Temple of Chicago”

Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago III

I have a special treat for you: recordings of the now-silent bells in the 11 South LaSalle Street Building! You’ll recall that these four bells form a clock chime and chimed an original composition “Samheim.” The bell pitches are B-flat–E-flat–G–B-flat. A nice E-flat major chord in second inversion. So these are the bells you wouldContinue reading “Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago III”

St. Paul’s Parish, Riverside, Illinois

Back when there was warmer weather (ah, remember those days?), I visited St. Paul’s Parish in Riverside, Illinois to witness their beautiful ring. Allison Olson kindly showed me around. The one of only two rings in the Chicago area (the other in Mitchell Tower at the University of Chicago), the eight bells ring from aContinue reading “St. Paul’s Parish, Riverside, Illinois”

Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago II

Now onto the bells of the Metropolitan Tower at 310 South Michigan Avenue, which I alluded to last time. Emily Nunn, Chicago Tribune reporter, had the enviable opportunity in 2007 to see the top of the tower–and the bells–up close. Her article lays out most of what I know. I’ll add that these clock-chime bellsContinue reading “Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago II”

Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago

I’ve written about the digital bells you hear in downtown Chicago here and here, but there are other bells…real bronze bells, up in those tall skyscrapers. There’s some in the Metropolitan Tower, which is a blog post for another time, and there are four in the 11 South LaSalle Street Building, otherwise known as theContinue reading “Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago”

Buried Alive, with Bells

Happy Halloween! Bells have a sinister side, too, you know. As my colleague Tiffany Ng has argued in her doctoral dissertation, in cultural representations bells have been associated with utopias and dystopias—death, decay, and all the rest of it. And we don’t even have to look at cultural representations—we can just look at the macabreContinue reading “Buried Alive, with Bells”

Plainfield United Methodist Church, Plainfield, IL

In the community of Plainfield, IL, just outside of Chicago, the Plainfield United Methodist Church expanded their historic chime into the fine carillon it is today. I’ve had the good fortune to visit this carillon a few times—to play and listen. Larry Stephens, parishioner and major donor for the instrument expansion, kindly showed us theContinue reading “Plainfield United Methodist Church, Plainfield, IL”