The Bells of Summer


By Maria Castellucci

“The Bells of Summer,” a weekly musical event this summer and part of the 48th Annual Rockefeller Carillon Festival, entails one performance each Sunday for 10 weeks by internationally known carillonneurs at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

The first event was Sunday, June 23 presenting carillonneur, Arie Abbenes and will continue every Sunday at 5 p.m. until August 25.

The show is a tradition that has been a part of the University of Chicago community 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,” Davenport said.

The carillon at the Rockefeller Chapel is the largest bell instrument to ever be made, and the largest musical instrument to be constructed. The huge instrument contains 72 bells and is made of 100 tons of bronze, according to the University of Chicago webpage.

The event brings the community together to appreciate the different sounds of the carillon played by an expert carilloneur, Davenport said.

“I love the fact that people and children and usually a few dogs all come and enjoy listening to these marvelous bells,” Davenport said. “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.”

The series is free and at 4:30 p.m., before the show, a tour of the bell tower is given for those interested.