Spotlight on the carillon of Vilnius
This summer the Frisian carillonneur Auke de Boer was in Vilnius, upon invitation by the organizers of the 20st Palaislio Muzikos Festivalis, the most important musical festival of Lithuania. On an earlier visit, two years ago, De Boer to his surprise saw a model of a carillon in the hall of the Church of St. Peter and Paul (1668). At the time the pastor couldn’t give any more information about the project. This year, when De Boer revisited Vilnius with carillonneur Bauke Reitsma and composer Joop Visser, the carillon proved to have been built. A heavy carillon (in C) of no less than five octaves, cast by Eijsbouts and provided with a pneumatic automatic play, now adorns on of the towers. The sounds balanced and somewhat modest, the openings in the tower being only very small.
The days before and after the concert of 17 June – unhappily coinciding which a thunderstorm – the Dutchmen had ample occasion to introduce the ambassador in Vilnius and his local contacts into the tradition of the carillon in the Low Countries. Playing compositions for the carillon as well as arrangements the duo ‘Auke and Bauke’ (no pun intended) have been important missionaries in this country that only begins to know the carillon. As yet there is no carillonneur, but already the automatically sounding bells are an asset to the town.
Editors of Dutch Carillon News
- The Church of St. Peter and Paul in Vilnius
- Left to right: carillonneur Bauke Reitsma, composer Joop Visser, the Dutch ambassador in Lithuania Bert van der Lingen, carillonneur Auke de Boer and Kestutis Vasiliunas from the Vilnius Academy of the Arts.
Tour by Mathieu Polak
This summer the Dutchman Mathieu Polak - carilloneur of Spakenburg, of the Rotterdam Erasmus University, and professor in the amateur department of the Netherlands Carillon Center - has made a big tour in the USA. Next to good experiences in playing inspiring instruments, he was introduced to many aspects of the country. Especially the large distances – Mathieu was driving a Dodge! – made this tour to a real road trip. Read about it all in his blog.
Photo: Alfred University Davis Memorial Carillon
Eurocarillon Festival 2016
Dordrecht/Amsterdam – Twelve carilloneurs from Berlin, Lyon, Birmingham, Bruges and other European cities, take part in the Eurocarillon Festival, from 18 to 20 August in Dordrecht and Amsterdam. Next to recitals for carillon solo, there are concerts in which the carillon is part of an ensemble. Various travelling carillons will be presented, among them the smallest travelling carillon in the world. A variety of music will be played: from original compositions for the carillon to arrangements, from classical to modern, from folk songs to well-known film music.
On Friday 19 August the carilloneurs will play the Amsterdam carillons of Westertoren, Munttoren, Zuidertoren and Oudekerkstoren, at 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 18:00 h. They will swap towers during the day. At 19:00 h. the day will be concluded with a recital on the bells of the Oude Kerk. Gidon Bodden and Boudwijn Zwart will play a new composition by the Dutch composer Jan-Bas Bollen. The Amsterdam towers are located on walking distance. The carillons can best be listened to from the streets nearby each tower.
On Thursday 18 August from 19:00 h. and on Saturday 20 August from 14:00 h. the carilloneurs will play the carillons of the Stadhuistoren and Grote Kerkstoren in Dordrecht. In Dordrecht will be present the Bell Moods Concert Carillon, a travelling carillon made by the Manousek foundry (Czech Republic), and the miniature carillon of the Italian Allaconi foundry. Five brass players of the Dutch Tower Music Ensemble will make the concerts even more attractive.
This is the third edition of the Eurocarillon Festival taking place in the Netherlands. Earlier festivals were organized in Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, England and Ireland. The festival is open to experiment: at the upcoming festival a free-jazz singer from Lithuania will sing with the carillon and in another concert the carillon will be combined with a singing saw. The entrance to all concerts is free.
City carillonneur Amsterdam and Dordrecht
Carillon Seminar in Saint Petersburg, Russia
A carillon seminar took place on Saturday and Sunday, November 14 and 15, 2015 at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. It was organized by Jo Haazen, Professor for Carillon and his assistant Alexandra Kapinos to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Department of Organ, Harpsichord and Carillon of the Faculty of Arts. On Saturday nine lectures were given on Jacob van Eyck (Ekaterina Lomakina), Claude Fremy (Irina Kozlova), Matthias van den Gheyn (Tatiana Mordvinova), the carillon school Jef Denyn (Alexandra Kapinos), the carillons of the world (Yana Trombinskaya and Andrey Markelov) and learning to play the carillon (Jo Haazen) as well as on Russian bellringing (Olesya Rostovskaya) and the use of trees as belfries (Sergey Starostenkov). I lectured on the Carillon in Berlin-Tiergarten. Afterwards we went to the newly restored Fyodorovsky Cathedral, which had been built to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Romanov family’s ascendancy to the throne of Russia. Olesya Rostovskaya and Vladlen Pigarov played the new 16 bell zvon dedicated to the last czar and his family. On Sunday I played a concert on the carillon installed by Petit and Fritsen in 2000-2001 in the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral to replace the 37 bells cast in 1760 by Nicholas Derck from Hoorn. The B-flat bourdon weighs 6,779 lbs, the 51 bells weigh 16 tons. The program included classical and popular music from Germany and Russia and carillon music by the Russian composers Alexander Knaifel and Sergey Tossin.
Photo: The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul in Saint Petersburg
Spotlight on the carillon of Klaipeda
In the first months of 2016 the organization of the Lithuanian Pazaislio Muzikos Festivalis asked Dutch carilloneurs to give concerts on the carillons of Kaunas, Klaipeda and Vilnius, during the ‘Vilnius Culture Night’. Thanks to mediation of the artist Joop Visser and the Dutch ambassador Bert van der Lingen, four concerts could be given. Lina Krepstaite, from Lithuania, took care of travel and stay of the four musicians, which she did perfectly. In June Auke de Boer and Bauke Reitsma travelled to Lithuania, and one month later Gerda Peters and Gijsbert Kok. In the upcoming issues of Carillon News those four carilloneurs will review the concerts and the somewhat unknown instruments. Gijsbert Kok is the first to do so. His concert was on Saturday 23 July, 19:00 h.
Text: Gerda Peters
The carillon of Klaipeda
From 21 to 24 July Gerda Peters, Menno Hoekstra and I visited the three carillons of Lithuania: Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda. The last was once known as Memel, after the river which banks it occupies. Because of the strategic position at the coast Klaipeda was heavily struck in World War II. If in the other two cities we can find many towers and churches, in Klaipeda these are almost absent. Two spots where once a church stood, are now marked by a monument and a swinging bell. No surprise, therefore, that the carillon of Klaipeda is not in a church tower. It hangs in the spire on the old main post office. Next door, the garden of the bell and clockwork museum offers a good listening spot. In the street the carillon sounds somewhat loud, perhaps even agressive. In the garden the sound is fine.
The carillon was cast by Eijsbouts in 2006, with 48 bells, based on f1. It replaces an 1987 instrument by Schilling (Apolda, former GDR). Carilloneur Kestutis Kacinskas plays every Saturday from 12:00 to 12:30, and there is always a small group of attentive listeners. The carillon is well kept en in good condition, be it that the software of the electronic practice keyboard was not working.
With Gerda Peters I played the concert of Saturday evening. At noon we could hear the instrument while it was skillfully played by Kestutis Kacinskas. Since I had to play secondly, I could hear Gerda’s part of the recital from below. The attention and discipline of the audience were striking. No talking or walking around, everyone was sitting quietly to enjoy the music, as if it were in a concert hall. Different from a regular concert though, there were no program leaflets, so the audience were left to guess titels and composers of the music...
For me this concert - thanks to the combination of the instrument (if played delicately), the audience, the lovely garden and the fine summer evening - was an idyllic experience.
Text: Gijsbert Kok
Photographs (Menno Hoekstra and Gerda Peters):
- tower of Klaipeda
- listening garden of Klaipeda
- Gerda Peters and Gijsbert Kok regulate the keyboard in harmonious cooperation, overseen by Klaipeda’s carilloneur, Kacinskas Kestutis.
Jacob van Eyck in residence
Jacob van Eyck is probably Utrecht’s most important musician of all times. The blind nobleman was born around 1590 in Heusden. He moved to Utrecht in 1625, to work as city musician (carillon and recorder), bell expert and composer. He died in 1657. He might well be called the dj of the seventeenth century.
During the recitals on the place called Janskerkhof, Jacob van Eyck played sets of themes and variations on the recorder. The themes he took from the international hit repertoire of his time. The major testimony of these recitals, that delighted citizens on their afterdinner walks, is Der Fluyten Lust-hof. This collection of music is rightfully famous. The music - loved by its high quality and feared by the difficulties it poses to the player - is known and played by everyone involved in the recorder.
Blind since he was born, Jacob van Eyck had an exceptionally sharp ear. He succeeded in unravelling the tonal structure of bells, and discovered the way in which they can be tuned. His cooperation with the Hemony brothers led to the first well tuned carillons in history. To this a carillon of Hemony counts as a ‘Stradivarius’, and the carillons of both the Utrecht Dom and Nicolaikerk are shining examples.
The project JACOB 3.0 aims to translate Van Eyck’s musical heritage into modern times. In the next few years two Utrecht musical festivals (Early Music and Gaudeamus) will ‘adopt’ Van Eyck and present his music in various forms and arrangements to their audiences. Erik Bosgraaf (recorder), Arjen de Vreede (dj), and Jorrit Tamminga (‘computer artist’) will bring Van Eyck back to life in concerts in TivoliVredenburg and Kytopia. Cooperating will be six turn tables and a laptop! As one of the organizers of JACOB 3.0, Wineke van Muiswinkel, puts it: ‘An old master that has so many connections to the modern world, makes an ideal candidate for an innovating project. His position in the international world of music, his connection to Utrecht, his vital contribution to the development of the carillon, his involvement with exceptional musical instruments, his technical knowledge and the way in which he connects low and high culture, make him interesting for many people. JACOB 3.0 bridges early and modern music in a logical way. In the end people will discover that there is no gap between the two.’
The project JACOB 3.0 wants to span several years. To start with, it will revive Van Eyck’s spirit in August en September 2016. (For the detailed program, click here)
- 28 and 30 August: city walks with musicologist and Van Eyck expert Thiemo Wind
- 4 September: concert (compilation) by Erik Bosgraaf (recorder), Arjen de Vreede (turn tabels) and Jorrit Tamminga (laptop)
- 4 September: concert by the Utrecht city carilloneur Malgosia Fiebig
- 11 September: concert by Erik Bosgraaf (recorder), Arjen de Vreede (turn tabels) and Jorrit Tamminga (laptop)
JACOB 3.0 is a cooperation of the Early Music Festival, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Culturele Zondagen, Kytopia and Residenties in Utrecht.
Text: Organisation JACOB 3.0
Photo's: Wineke van Muiswinkel
Carillon Day 2016 in Vlaardingen
Saturday 9 July Vlaardingen celebrated Carillon Day, which came in the place of the former Vlaardingen Carillon Weeks.
The travelling carillon of Douai (F) moved along the Vlaardingen streets for two and a half hours, after which the main program was given at the Lijnbaanplantsoen. This is new park within hearing distance of the Oranjecarillon at the Markt, around a historic ropery that provides hundreds of sheltered seats.
The travelling carillon was played by Kenneth Theunissen, Richard de Waardt and Jasper Depraetere, a 16 year-old student from Mechelen. Bas de Vroome, at the Oranjecarillon, joined them a few times, for instance in two variation cycles, in which the two carillons complemented each other.
There was a special bus that provided transportation between homes for the elderly and the park. The 600 chairs were almost all occupied. Like every year there was a Carillon Quizz, with questions regarding bells and carillons. The winner was selected by the Flemish chansonnière Della Bosiers, the whole was presented by actress Mary-Lou van Stenis. Next to the music, listeners could enjoy carillon bear and specially made cheese cookies.
The program was concluded by the world champion in whistling, Geert Chatrou, accompanied by Richard de Waardt. The rehearsal had been at the digital practice keyboard of the Big Ben Foundation - probably the last time it was used in this way, since the foundation offers it for sale.
The next Vlaardingen Carillon Day is planned on Saturday 8 July 2017. However, organizer Ben van der Linden fears that lack of funds will put an end to this beautiful initiative. He and hundreds of listeners call upon the municipal authorities to keep supporting the manifestations, that have proven to be so successfull.
Ben van der Linden
The next Dutch Carillon News
Spotlight on the carillon of the Kirk of St. Nicholas in Aberdeen, Scotland
The Carillon in the Kirk of St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Scotland is the largest (48 bells) of four carillons in Scotland. St Nicholas Kirk dates from very early times of Christianity in Scotland and parts of the present building date from the 12th century. It is known that there were 6 bells originally but these were all destroyed in a fire of 1874 which consumed the wooden bell tower. When the tower was rebuilt it was made of Aberdeen granite (2,000 tons) and it was decided to install a carillon of 37 bells to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This carillon was cast by van Aerschodt of Louvain and installed in 1887. Unfortunately, the tone was very poor and the sound did not carry, so for the next 65 years only psalm melodies were played on the bottom bells.
In 1952 the City Council (who own the bells) instructed Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, London to take down the bells and recast them. This resulted in a carillon of very superior tone and in 1954 it was completed with the addition of 11 more bells. It is the heaviest carillon the UK weighing 25 tons and the bourdon bell weight 4 1/2 ton.
There have been four City Carilloneurs since 1952 and I, Ronald Leith, have been Carilloneur since 1978. I play daily from mid-June to mid-September, a half hour before the church service on Sundays, and twice a week at other times. I was pleased to welcome Gerda Peters a few years ago, and have other occasional visitors who love the wonderful sound, but I will let Gerda describe her visits herself.
Gerda: "Twice I was able to spend a week in Aberdeen where I experienced the hospitality of colleague Ronald Leith. It was marvellous to be able to play on such a great carillon at Aberdeen. The bells have a beautiful, full sonorous sound and thanks to a technical revision carried out since my first visit in 2005 it played much better when I went to play again in 2014.
It is not possible for Ronald to organise a concert series but colleagues are always welcome to come along and play. Ronald is a self-taught carilloneur who was thrown in the deep end by his predecessor. He would really like to exchange ideas with colleagues and to discuss carillon music, playing technique, instruments and so forth. I thoroughly recommend making the journey to Aberdeen to get acquainted with a wonderful instrument and its inspired performer. You will have a fantastic time!”
Text: Ronald Leith en Gerda Peters
Dutch Carillonneurs perform in Litouwen
Through many years of cooperation between individual composers, carilloneurs and artists from Lithuania and the Netherlands, combined with informal contacts with the Lithuanian Embassy in The Hague, the foundation had been laid for broad, friendly and cultural exchanges. Early in 2016, the organisers of the 20th Lithuanian Pazaislio Muzikos Festivalis asked Joseph J. Visser to stimulate interest from Dutch carilloneurs to come and give concerts on the carillons of Kaunas and Klaipeda, and to play during the 'Vilnius Culture Night'. For artist and composer Visser, also curator of exhibitions of work by, inter alia, Giedrius Jonaitis, designer of the banknotes, and Kestutis Vasiliunas, it is not the first time that he travels with carilloneurs to Lithuania. In 2014 he travelled with Auke de Boer - town carilloneur at Dokkum and Groningen - to let their skills be seen and heard in Kaunas.
In response to the request from Lithuania, Visser and De Boer decided to choose from carilloneurs whom they had especially appreciated during the series of summer concerts in Dokkum. Thus in the coming weeks:
- on Saturday 17 and Sunday, June 18 Auke de Boer and Bauke Reitsma - carillonneur of Weesp, Baarn and Bunschoten will play in Vilnius and Kaunas;
- on 23 and 24 July Gerda Peters, carillonneur of Beverwijk, Voorburg and Almere and Gijsbert Kok, carillonneur of The Hague, Scheveningen and Voorschoten, will play the carillons of Klaipeda and Kaunas.
These performances are pilot projects for the participation of Dutch carilloneurs in subsequent years at this internationally renowned festival.
Photo: Joseph J. Visser and Auke de Boer (©Bauke Reitsma)
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