Three great Thursdays: Summer Smith Carillon Series begins July 17

July 01, 2008

Erie, Pa. -- The 2008 Smith Carillon Concert Series at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, begins Thursday, July 17, with a performance by retired Dominion Carillonneur of Canada Gordon F. Slater.

The following Thursday, July 24, Penn State alumna Lisa Lonie will perform on the college’s 48-bell Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon. Helen Hawley, minister of music at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., will close the series on Thursday, July 31.

All three performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Seating is on the lawn of the John M. Lilley Library, so concertgoers are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. Refreshments will be served.

Gordon F. Slater began playing carillon at age 7 by assisting his father, James, the carillonneur at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto. He was carillonneur at three Canadian carillons -- the Rainbow Tower Carillon in Niagara Falls; the Carlsberg Carillon of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto; and the Soldiers' Tower Carillon of the University of Toronto -- before being appointed Dominion Carillonneur of Canada in 1977. He recently retired after 31 years in that position.

Lisa Lonie, a 1984 Penn State graduate, is the carillonneur at St. Thomas Church in Whitemarsh, and at the historic two-octave carillon at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. Prior to these appointments, she was associated with the Schneider Memorial Carillon in Holland, Bucks County, for over 20 years, serving as its carillonneur and summer concert series director.

Known for her musical wit and creative programming, Lonie is a frequent recitalist throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She was a featured recitalist on the NBC television special "Ringing in the Holidays at Longwood Gardens," and recorded Longwood Gardens' first CD of carillon music, "The Bells of Christmas," now in its second pressing. She frequently lectures on the art of programming, audience development, arts marketing, and professional certification.

Helen Hawley holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in organ performance from the University of Kansas. She is a nationally known carillonneur, and has performed recitals in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, as well as in Europe, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The bells of Penn State Behrend’s Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon are hung "dead" in a steel framework tower; they do not swing. Instead, a clapper is brought to the bell using levers and a system of counterbalanced transmission bars. The carillon is played from a hand clavier located in the tower room of the Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel.

The largest of the 48 bells weighs 1,344 pounds and has a 40-inch diameter. The smallest weighs 15 and one-quarter pounds and measures just under seven inches at the mouth. They were cast by bell founders Meeks, Watson & Co. of Georgetown, Ohio, of "bell metal," an alloy of 80-percent copper and 20-percent tin that has been used for carillon bells since the 1600s. The 48 bells cover four octaves, which permits performance of almost the entire literature of carillon music.

For additional information about the Smith Carillon Concert Series at Penn State Behrend phone (814) 898-6609.


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Last Updated March 19, 2009