Summer carillon music series returns to Erie for four performances

June 27, 2011

The 48 bells of the Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will ring at the hands (and fists, and feet) of four internationally known carillonneurs this summer.

Carillons are the world’s largest musical instrument; their bells are hung stationary in a steel framework. Clappers are brought to the bells using a system of levers and counter springs connected to a clavier. The keyboard-like clavier is located in a small room at the base of the carillon; the carillonneur strikes the clavier’s keys, called batons, with a loosely closed fist. The heavier bells also can be played using foot pedals.

Performing on the Smith Carillon this summer will be:

Thursday, July 14

Toru Takao
Freelance carillonneur from Dusseldorf, Germany

Thursday, July 21
Karel Keldermans
Former president of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America

Thursday, July 28
Gordon Slater
Retired dominion carillonneur of Canada

Thursday, Aug. 4
Sharon L. Hettinger
Director of music, St. Andrew Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Mo.

All four outdoor performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Free hot dogs and snacks will be served during the concerts.

Seating for the Smith Carillon Concert Series is on the lawn of the campus' Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel; concertgoers are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. In the event of rain, seating will be available inside the chapel.

The Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon bells were installed in April 2002. The largest of the bells weighs 1,344 pounds and has a 40-inch diameter at its mouth. The smallest weighs 15 and one-quarter pounds and measures six and five-eighths inches in diameter. The Smith Carillon bells were cast by Meeks, Watson & Co., a bell founder located in Georgetown, Ohio, and are made from “bell metal,” a bronze consisting of 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin. This alloy has been used for carillon bells since the 1600s.

The Smith Carillon is considered a concert carillon; it covers four octaves, permitting performance of almost the entire canon of published carillon music.

The Smith Carillon Concert Series is made possible by a gift from Larry and Kathryn Smith. For additional information about the series, phone 814-898-6609.


  • Toru Takao

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 29, 2011