The Bells of Summer

By Maria Castellucci

As part of the 48th Annual Rockefeller Carillon Festival, “The Bells of Summer,” free performances by a host of international carillonneurs will take place at 5 p.m. every Sunday at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.

The first performance, by carillonneur Arie Abbenes, took place June 23. The series will continue through August 25.

The show has been a University of Chicago tradition since 1965.

The inspiration for this yearly event is to relax on a summer evening and enjoy the magnificent carillon bells at the Chapel, Elizabeth Davenport, the dean of Rockefeller Chapel, said.

“I don’t exactly know what inspired the creation of the series all those years ago but I would imagine it would be the same as if we were creating it from scratch now: the potential for a delightfully lazy summer evening on a blanket on the Rockefeller lawns with the beautiful bells pealing overhead,” chapel dean Elizabeth Davenport said.

The chapel’s carillon is the largest musical instrument ever constructed. It contains 72 bells and is made of 100 tons of bronze, according to the chapel’s website.

“Carillons stretch all the way back to medieval times, and there’s something delightfully medieval about sitting on the lawn on an extraordinary building like Rockefeller Chapel and hearing melodies ancient and modern played with the unique harmonies and tones of bells,” Davenport said.

Before each show, at 4:30 p.m., a tour of the bell tower is given for those interested.