It is undoubtedly unparalleled in history to have so many carillons played, and bells rung simultaneously high and low throughout the country. On Saturday the 1st of December at 2 to 12 am the bells were tolled at 350 locations in the Netherlands to sound a climate alarm. This was done by the literal sounding of the bells and by playing ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe on over 50 carillons in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and even Russia and the USA.
With this alarm, an initiative by Greenpeace, civilians called on minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate to take a proactive role at the International Climate Summit in Katowice Poland starting on the 2nd of December. A recent report presented by the United Nations showed that global warming could and should be limited to 1.5◦C. Experts say that the difference between 1.5◦C and 2◦C will have disastrous consequences for our planet.
This call to action by Greenpeace inspired Esther Schopman, city carillonneur of Enschede, to not only sound the alarm bells but to use all the bells of the Grote Kerk in Enschede. Greenpeace enthusiastically embraced her suggestion to adapt the song ‘The Final Countdown’ for carillon. By personally approaching many carillonneurs and by providing her arrangement free of charge, Esther Schopman succeeded in convincing 40 carillonneurs of the importance of this action. She said: "As musicians, we have the ability and responsibility to use our instrument to draw attention to important social issues. With music, we can step up for our beautiful planet".
The city carillonneur from Enschede then strengthened her own musical call to action by pairing up with ArtEZ conservatorium students. A rehearsal by the band ensembled for this occasion was filmed and used by Greenpeace for their promo video. Their concert ‘Last Call for Climate Change’ drew the attention of local and national newspapers. Together with Ronja Maltzahn (Singer-songwriter, Germany), Ryan Song (Singer, China), Ezekiel French (Percussionist, Australia) and the Dutch Ruben Verkerke (guitar) and Odin the Jong (sound technician), Schopman played ‘The Final Countdown’, but also ‘Wonderful World’ (Louis Armstrong), ‘Do No Wrong’ (Thirteen Senses) and a song written by Ronja, ‘Whole New World’. The audience was deeply moved when the bells were tolled at different locations throughout the city the moment their applause had ended.
It was an exceptional occasion that in Groningen the Ruimstraatklok of the Martinitower was rung. That rarely happens, and its ringing is usually reserved for calamities. The bell ringers judged that climate change certainly meets that criterium.
In the Westertower in Amsterdam at 11.58 am a bell was rung by the alderperson Marieke van Doorninck responsible for Spatial Development, and Sustainability and Greenpeace director Anna Schoemakers. About 100 people were witness to the occasion.
In Rotterdam, the bells of the St. Laurens tower were also rung by an alderperson, but only after a motion to this effect handed in by the Party for the Animals was adopted by the city council. Also in Rotterdam, the carillons of the City Hall and the Pilgrims Father Church were also played.
On the carillon of the Peace Palace in the Hague, Heleen van der Well played a special program that included, in addition to the ‘The Final Countdown’, music inspired by the four elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water. To send extra encouragement to the minister she concluded her concert with a traditional Polish song.
We can positively state the carillon has delivered a valuable contribution to an urgent global issue.