Klaipėda Carillon Festival:
Healing music for body and soul
On June 24th, 2019, the festive toll of bells will announce the return of the Klaipėda Carillon Festival to the city of Klaipėda, where it has been creating the unique soundscape and exceptional appeal of the harbour city for the past six years. From midday till dusk the ringing of bells will be heard high above and out across the harbour city, inviting to prick up ears and listen to the echo of years gone by, to feel the powerful presence of the past and capture the vibe of the present. While looking for the apparently celestial source of these sounds, we will lift up our eyes from the ground and make our minds rise in tow from the mire of quotidian routines towards this heavenly beauty.
Since time immemorial people have believed that bells were endowed with healing powers that affect body and soul, that is, elevate the spirit and improve physical health. Researchers have discovered that bell vibrations cleanse the environment of negative energy. Low frequencies have a soothing effect and help relieve stress, while high frequencies tend to invigorate and exhilarate. Thus attending a concert of bell music may also have a therapeutic effect, apart from being a fun form of leisure.
The Klaipėda Carillon is one of the three standard-sized (four-octave) concert carillons in Lithuania whose audible presence has become the signature of our city. It was mounted in the tower of the Klaipėda Central Post Office in 1987 and remained in service until 2006, when it was replaced with the new instrument manufactured by the Royal Eijsbauts Bell Foundry in Asten, the Netherlands.
The newly installed concert carillon has 48 bells, with the tonal range of four octaves and a total bell weight of about five tons, which amounts to ten tons together with the supporting frame structure. The largest bell weighs 900 kilograms.
Organised by the Klaipėda Concert Hall, the Klaipėda Carillon Festival invites the citizens and guests of the harbour city to celebrate the summer solstice with four concerts that will take place during the longest summer day, on June 24th. The ringing of carillon bells hovers high above the city and pervades the air in the old town, but the best spot for focused listening is the courtyard of the Klaipėda Clock and Watch Museum where all concerts are screened live so that the audience may not only hear but also watch carillonneurs perform in the bell tower.
Starting from June 10th, an exhibition dedicated to the history of the Klaipėda Carillon and a poster of the 6th Klaipėda Carillon Festival will be open for viewing at the Northern Cape near the Old Ferry Terminal. We also offer guided tours to the tower of the Klaipėda Central Post Office where you can take a closer look at this rare instrument assisted by our knowledgeable guides.
At noon, the “Midday Bells” will announce the beginning of the festival. It is for the first time that the festival will stream live webcast of carillon music from Klaipėda and Kaunas. The seaport’s carillon crew will invariably feature Kęstutis Kačinskas and Stanislovas Žilevičius who have been loyal servants and promoters of this majestic instrument in Klaipėda for almost three decades.
The Kaunas Carillon is the oldest of the seven instruments currently existing in Lithuania. Initially consisting of 35 bells manufactured by Michiels Jr. Tornau Foundry in Belgium, it was mounted in the specially built tower of the Vytautas the Great War Museum in Kaunas in 1937. It was reopened after a complete refurbishment at the Royal Eijsbauts Bell Foundry in Asten, in 2006, with 14 additional bells and a new keyboard. The instrument now has 49 bells. The featured artist in Kaunas is Julius Vilnonis who has successfully combined his career as a carillonneur with that of a conductor, composer and arranger. Kačinskas and Žilevičius are also known for their music composed or arranged for carillon. The arrangements of all three carillonneurs will be featured in the programme of “Midday Bells.”
The “Afternoon Bells” concert, starting at 3 pm, offers a carillon recital by renowned Belgian carillonneur Luc Rombouts. Having studied at the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, he is now city carillonneur of Tienen (Belgium), university carillonneur of Leuven (Belgium), and carillonneur of Park Abbey near Leuven. He has given recitals in Europe and in the USA and performed during festivals and congresses. Together with his colleague Twan Bearda, he formed The Bells’ Angels carillon duo that has been exploring the repertoire for four hands carillon playing since 2000.
He published two collections of 18th century carillon music from Leuven. He wrote several books on the carillon, among which is the award-winning carillon history book Zingend brons that was published in English, in 2014, under the title Singing Bronze. A History of Carillon Music. He obtained a PhD degree cum laude from the University of Utrecht with a dissertation on the origin of the carillon.
Luc Rombouts coordinated the project that led in 2014 to the recognition of the Belgian carillon culture as a best safeguarding practice in intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO and is president of the Belgian Carillon Heritage Committee. He is board member of the National Carillon Museum 'Klok & Peel' in Asten (the Netherlands) and the Royal Carillon School 'Jef Denyn' in Mechelen (Belgium), and director of the Singing Bronze Foundation, based in Asten. He co-founded the International Network of War Memorial and Peace Carillons, based at the Peace Palace in The Hague (the Netherlands). From 2017 until 2018, he coordinated the project of the Peace Carillon at Park Abbey near Leuven, a replica of a 18th century baroque carillon.
The “Evening Bells” will start ringing at 6 pm. The carillon part will be performed by guest soloist Monika Kaźmierczak from Poland who is well familiar to the audiences in Klaipėda through her participation in previous editions of the Klaipėda Carillon Festival.
Educated as a choral conductor, music theorist and carillonneur, Monika Kaźmierczak has won prizes in several international carillon competitions and performed regularly in Poland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Belgium, the United States and elsewhere. She teaches carillon at the Stanislaw Moniuszko Music Academy in Gdansk from which she has obtained doctoral degree in carillon performance, in 2012. She is member of the board of the Polish Carillon Society (former chair, 2011‒5) and active programmer of many events dedicated to carillon music in Gdansk, including the annual carillon festival.
Kaźmierczak will be accompanied by the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra under the artistic direction of Mindaugas Bačkus. To join the orchestra in this programme is the large group of percussionists, consisting of the former and present citizens of Klaipėda: Ingrida Spalinskaitė-Kurienė, Tomas Kulikauskas, Andrius Rekašius, Vilius Matijošaitis and Lukas Budzinauskas. All of the mentioned musicians have been trained at the Stasys Šimkus Conservatory or the Eduardas Balsys Gymnasium of Arts in Klaipėda.
The highlight of this programme is Bizet-Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite to be performed with the newly composed interludes for carillon. These have been specially written by the composition students of the Stanislaw Moniuszko Music Academy in Gdansk: Anna Janowicz, Piotr Kasiłowski, Miłosz Kowalewski, Krzysztof Jurczak, Milena Słowikowska and Jakub Zalewski. They worked under the supervision of Kamil Cieślik – composer, arranger and orchestration tutor – whose piece for carillon will be performed during the first concert of the festival.
The simultaneous and harmonious coordination of the carillon mounted high in the tower and the orchestra seated in the museum courtyard will be entrusted to conductor Martynas Staškus.
The “Night Bells,” starting at 9 pm, will round off this year’s marathon with the appearance of young carillonneur Bob van der Linde from the Netherlands. Having completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in carillon, organ and church music in 2017, he currently pursues his Master’s studies in organ, church music and carillon at the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht. He won a number of prizes in carillon competitions in Goes, Breda (The Netherlands) and Springfield (USA). He has been appointed organist at the Old-Catholic Church in Hilversum and the Anglican Church in Zwolle. Since January 2018 he has been named city carillonneur of Arnhem. He has given recitals in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and two recital tours in the United States.
The courtyard stage will be filled to capacity by wind players from the Klaipėda Brass Quintet and Wind Orchestra of the City of Palanga. The colourful programme of music for carillon and wind instruments will be conducted by Vygantas Rekašius and Egidijus Miknius. The nocturnal mood will be created by the spellbinding compositions for carillon, mellifluous and galvanizing pieces for wind orchestra enriched with the ringing of the bells.
All concerts will be presented by Rūta Vildžiūnienė. Admittance to the concerts is free of charge. Join us at the festival, enjoy the music and experience the healing vibrations of music. We hope to see you on the longest day of the year, listening to the ringing bells of the Klaipėda Carillon!