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June 12, 2008

Carillon guest series opens June 21

by Anne Krapfl

Summer. The season for baseball games, water skiing, kite flying. And carillon concerts.

"For audiences, summer is the preferred time for carillon concerts," said ISU carillonneur and Cownie Professor of Music Tin-Shi Tam. "People enjoy being outdoors, and they can enjoy other activities while they listen to the music."

So, carillonneurs around the world hit the road to perform at each other's music festivals.

Tin Shi Tam

ISU carillonneur Tin-shi Tam is pictured giving one of her daily concerts on the university carillon. The carillon's playing cabin is at the level of the clock on the campanile; the carillon's 50 bells are directly above it. Four guest artists will visit campus this summer for a special concert series. File photo by Bob Elbert.

Iowa State is hosting its third summer concert series featuring guest musicians from around the country and the world. The series opens June 21 with a concert by Luther College graduate Laura Ellis, who's now a music faculty member at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She is the university organist and curator for a pipe organ, carillon and historic keyboard instruments at the university. She has a master's degree in church music and doctoral degree in organ performance, both from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Ellis' concert begins at 3 p.m. It's being held in conjunction with the inaugural gathering of the Society of ISU Carillon Alumni and Friends, a group started last year to connect former carillon students and friends.

The concert series continues:

  • July 8 (7 p.m.), with Joseph Daniel, carillonneur at Christ Church Cranbrook (Episcopal) in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. He also is a professional handbell ringer. Daniel received dual master's degrees in organ and carillon performance, and a doctoral degree in organ performance, all from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • Aug. 5 (7 p.m.), with Marc van Eyck, carillonneur at the St. Geertuikerk tower in Leuven, Belgium. Van Eyck received a master's degree at the Hogeschool University, Brussels, and a diploma from the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium. In addition to his playing skills, he is known for improving the playing mechanism of cables and pulleys that connect a carillon's keyboard to the bell clappers.
  • Sept. 2 (7 p.m.), with Trevor Workman, carillonneur since 1965 for one of England's half dozen carillons, owned by the Bournville Village Trust, south of Birmingham. Workman currently serves as president of the British Carillon Society. He studied piano at the Birmingham Conservatoire as a young man, but his profession was engineering (he retired in 2001).

Enjoying the concerts

Programs, listing the music each carillonneur will perform, will be available at the base of the campanile, as will a small screen broadcasting live video of the musician. Concerts will last approximately 45 minutes, Tam said. Following the concerts, the campanile will be open for tours and guests may meet the featured carillonneur.

Tam said nearly anywhere on the central campus lawn is a good spot to listen to a carillon concert. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket.

"Open space is crucial to a good sound, so there's less bounceback from buildings," she said. "The big lawn surrounding our campanile is ideal."

The concerts will take place rain or shine, she said.

Tam said the music department plans to host a summer carillon concert series in even-numbered years. Previous summer series were held in 2001 and 2003.

About carillons

  • Range in size from 2 to 6-plus chromatic octaves (23 to 77 bells)
  • ISU carillon has 50 bells
  • Like organ music, carillon music is written for both hands and feet
  • Enemies of a carillon bell: fire and air pollution (metal dissolves, affecting its tuning)

Did you know?

Tin-Shi Tam's daily carillon concerts (just before noon) are broadcast live on the music department's Web site.