by Daniel Hathaway
It’s good for composers to try writing outside their comfort zone, but some members of the Cleveland Composers Guild are challenging themselves to scale new heights by learning to write for the carillon.
Ubiquitous in the Low Countries of Belgium and the Netherlands, carillons are collections of tuned bells played with the fingers, fists, feet, and occasionally by a performer’s outstretched hand or forearm. The instruments vary in size depending on the number of bells their creators could afford, and on the size of the towers where they’re housed.
Northeast Ohio is home to several carillons, among which the McGaffin Carillon in University Circle is the largest, with its four-octave range of 47 bells. Its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018 included McGaffin Flourish, a new work by Guild member Jennifer Conner, who teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Music — well within earshot of the McGaffin Tower. Although attached to The Church of the Covenant, the structure has been incorporated as a separate entity for the sake of the preservation and promotion of the bells.
Carillonneur George Leggiero has been the liaison between the Friends of the McGaffin Carillon and the Composers Guild in planning a series of new works to be debuted from the tower this fall during the Friday lunchtime concerts, which run between 12:15 and 12:45 pm. [Read more…]