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 the instrument and allowed me and my colleague to play. The carillon numbers 23 bells—just reaching the minimum number of bells for a carillon—and for that reason it does not have a pedal board.
The first ten bells date all the way back to 1906 from Meneely of Watervliet. In 2007, Eijsbouts cast eight more matching bells to bring the total up to 2007. Then in 2014, five more bells were added to reach 23. At this time, an electro-pneumatic auto-play feature was added. In the picture below, you can see the contrast between the old and new bells (not shiny vs. shiny).
In August 2016, my colleagues and I came back to hear the special carillon recital of Ellen Dickinson on a perfect summer evening. Ellen played the bells beautifully. Her secret for making her arrangements sound full and vibrant, it seems, was to use handbell arrangements as a starting point for her carillon arrangements. The ice cream helped in making the evening enjoyable too.
Thank you, Larry, for introducing us to Plainfield United Methodist Church’s carillon!