The album “Bells Forever” was recently released. “Bells forever” is an exceptional collection of music connected to bells; from handbells, piano, wine glasses, voice, cowbells and organ, to electronic music, chansons, horn, folk music, baroque and pop.
The CD also looks back to the Vlaardingen Carillon Weeks which Ben van der Linden organized for over 9 years. The CD’s exclusivity is not only a result of the high musical skill it presents but also lies in its issue as a limited edition.
After a radio interview with Ben van der Linden in the radio program Volgspot by the NCRV, The Netherlands Press Agency released a statement about this CD in the Netherlands and Belgium. But it would be a mistake to overlook the other musicians on this cd, for instance, Liszt Concourswinner Martyn van den Hoek and the fascinating Arsis Handbell Ensemble from Estonia.
Since its release, the CD has found its way to Dutch and Belgian national radio stations.
This CD can be obtained from the webshop of the Netherlands Carillon Centre.
On Saturday the 30th of March 2019 three new carillon books were presented to the public in Bonn (Germany). These are composed by Mathieu Polak, composer and teacher at the Netherlands Carillon Center in Amersfoort. The compositions and arrangements are designed for a two-octave carillon with 23 tones (c3, d3, e3, f3 chromatic to c5), without pedal. The in total 18 new compositions and 30 arrangements form a substantial contribution to existing literature for this kind of instrument.
Out of the 48 pieces, comprising almost 90 pages spread out over 3 books, 12 pieces are written for carillon duet (this includes a suite in 5 parts which constitutes the first carillon book). This compensates for the absence of pedal, makes use of the complete size of the instrument with 2 octaves and encourages duet play. Because there is no pedal voice, the player can focus completely on manual play. For this reason, 7 pieces for solo carillonneur are titled “etude”. These etudes are all characteristic music pieces by themselves, that together form a 7-part suite.
Other compositions focus on the specific situation of the carillon the books are written for. The carillon in the German city of Bonn-Bad Godesberg is situated in a park, the playing booth is situated on the ground level and has large windows. This means that the players are easy to observe, and easy to address. In this way, many parents and children have become acquainted with this carillon. For their pleasure, but also to encourage playing together, the composer Mathieu Polak has written 6 specific pieces for duet that make up the 2nd volume together with the 7 etudes and 3 other character pieces.
The underlying concept of the 3rd carillon book is the celebration of the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven in 2020. Several piano compositions by this famous son of the city of Bonn were arranged for the instrument in Bad Godesberg. The challenge was to choose compositions with a range that could be translated to the 23 tones of the Godesberg carillon. Also, well-known piano pieces by Robert Schumann from his “Kinderszenen” (Scenes for Childhood) and “Album für die Jugend” (Album for the Young) were arranged for carillon. Georg Wagner, carillonneur of the Godesberg instrument and city carillonneur for Aschaffenburg, also contributed 8 arrangements to this book. He also started the initiative to compose new carillon music for the instrument in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. Mathieu Polak accepted that challenge.
In a public, free to attend, concert on the carillon of Bad Godesberg selected pieces from the 3 books were presented to a large audience on March 30th, 2019. Carillonneurs Ariane Toffel and Georg Wagner have played the carillon of Bonn-Bad Godesberg since June 2018. In 2019 there were officially appointed carillonneurs. Mathieu Polak was their teacher during their training for carillonneur at the Netherlands Carillon Center in Amersfoort. In December 2018 they succeeded Wilhelm Ritter as city carillonneurs of Aschaffenburg.
About the composer:
Mathieu Daniël Polak attended the Dutch Carillon School in Amersfoort (part of the Utrecht School of the Arts, HKU). He obtained his master’s with a specialization in music pedagogy. Since then, he is a teacher at the Netherlands Carillon Center in Amersfoort. He is the carillonneur of Spakenburg since 2003 and the Erasmus University Rotterdam since 2008. He achieved two master’s degrees in composition, one from the Utrecht School of the Arts and one from the Lemmens Institute in Leuven. He has composed works over many different genres and arranged numerous pieces for carillon. In 2019, he was rewarded first place in the Johan Franco composition competition for his carillon piece "A Butterfly's Dance".
DThe 3 carillon books are available in print, as well as in PDF format, at the Netherlands Carillon Centre. All individual pieces can be obtained separately too.
You can listen to a selection of the works on YouTube:
In the beautifully edited bundle ‘Chag Sameach’, which recently came out and was composed by carillonneur Mathieu Polak, there are new compositions and arrangements for carillon of traditional melodies sang on Jewish holidays in the temple or at home.
Chag Sameach literally means: have a happy, joyful holiday. During Jewish holidays people greet each other, at home and at the synagogue, with these words.
Jewish services know a centuries-old, rich vocal tradition. Besides the recitation of prayers, it is the solemnly or exuberant singing of prayers, the structural connecting element, which gives a characteristic musical contribution to the services.
In this way, each Jewish holiday has its own, specific, recognizable melody, which gives the listener, accustomed to this use of music, an immediate association to that holiday and everything that is associated with it.
There are traditional melodies for all Jewish holidays in the book Chag Sameach, also, there are special new compositions by Mathieu. The introduction gives a clear description of the Jewish holidays, of the accompanying melodies that Mathieu selected and, when known, the composers or sources of the music.
The arrangements of traditional melodies are easily recognizable for listeners under the tower and are inspiring to play for a carillonneur. In a multicultural society, it is appropriate to play, regularly, diverse music on the tower: music that sounds familiar to many people.
Because this book contains melodies of all Jewish holidays, it can be used very well for programmed carillon concerts themed around Jewish music, but it can also be played at the regular market or late-opening concerts. In the same way it is now customary to play Saint Nicolas melodies in the last two weeks of November for the benefit of young listeners, the carillonneur can connect to the sense of community by playing well-known melodies around the time of Jewish holidays. Most office calendars contain the dates of Jewish holidays too.
This new bundle ‘Chag Sameach’ by Mathieu Polak offers a practical, valuable and musical enrichment to the existing repertoire of Jewish melodies for carillon.
Moshé Lewkowitz, city carillonneur of Nieuwegein and Chazan (precentor) of the Liberal Jewish Congregation in Utrecht.
10-14 July 2019
From 10th till 14th of July, unique sounds of the carillon will be heard throughout the inner city of Mechelen during the International Carillon Competition Queen Fabiola. This musical competition is held every five years and is now at its eighth edition. The Royal Carillon School Jef Denyn and the Association for Tower and Carillon will bring together the cream of carillonneurs from all corners of the world.
"Winterswijks beiaardboek". A publication on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Petit & Fritsen carillon (1993). Order here.
The Department of Music of Iowa State University in Ames (USA) is proud to announce the Carillon Composition Competition 2019. The purpose of the competition is to encourage the writing of original carillon compositions by young composers under age 35.
For a large number of Jewish holidays, such as the Jewish New Year (Rosh ha Shana), Great Day of Atonement (Yom Kipur), the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) and Joy of the Law (Simchat Torah), composer and carillonneur Mathieu Daniël Polak has written some compositions and also arranged existing music for carillon.
All the compositions and arrangements have been included in a book with the title "Chag Sameach", which means "Happy Holidays" in Hebrew. The book comprises about 115 pages of music, a description of the Jewish holidays and biographies of all the original composers of the arrangements. A stipend was made available for this project by the Performing Arts Fund and the Music of many Cultures foundation (MomC).
During maintenance work on the Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam in 2011, the lead in its spire was discovered to be in bad shape even though it had only been applied during the restoration in 1994. Inevitably, scaffolding was erected around the tower again in 2016. The new restoration could start after the dismantling of the carillon with three octaves and the removal of all 35 bells from the tower. Of these bells, 23 were cast by François Hemony in 1656-1657. Royal Eijsbouts had replaced the highest octave with replicas of the original Hemony-bells in 1994.
The international carillon competition ‘Maurice and Géo Clément’ will be held for the first time in the Belgian city of Tournai on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September 2019. To celebrate that the carillon culture has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List for five years. This competition is restricted to carillonneurs under the age of 21. There are two categories. The session on Saturday is for those who do not yet use the pedals of a baton-type keyboard.