The bells of the Klaipėda Carillon toll for the 770th anniversary of Klaipėda
The Klaipėda Carillon Festival will celebrate a special occasion this year: the bells will toll for the 770th anniversary of Klaipėda! The city can pride itself on owning a unique instrument known as the Klaipėda Carillon whose audible presence has become the signature of our city for 35 years since its installation in the tower of the then Klaipėda Post Office. The ringing of bells, hovering high and wide above the harbour city, continues to give vibrancy to the city’s soundscape. No matter what – rain or sunshine, heat waves or frosts – the carillon never falls silent and gives the city its unique voice!
The Klaipėda Carillon is one of the three standard-sized concert carillons in Lithuania. It was mounted in the tower of the former Klaipėda Central Post Office in 1987 and remained in service until 2006, when it was replaced with the new instrument manufactured by the Royal Eijsbouts 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.
Thus, the carillon is the largest and most powerful musical instrument, the sound of which can be heard even a few miles away. So is the music performed on this instrument: it is free and belongs to everyone in the city; it makes the community gather around, helps combat social exclusion and promote inclusion. It makes us lift our heads up to the sky, where the magic sounds soar around the old city, and raise our spirits above our daily humdrum life. It can even heal people who believe in a therapeutic effect of bell music on one’s body and soul.
On June 24th the Klaipėda Carillon Festival will be held for the ninth time at the courtyard of the Klaipėda Clock and Watch Museum. This year the Klaipėda Concert Hall traditionally offers four concerts, to which the listeners will be admitted free of charge. The programmes this year have a special focus on artists from or somehow related to Klaipėda, both performers and composers, who have contributed new works to this festival. All concert programmes will be announced, with commentaries on the works and short interviews with composers and performers, by musicologist Veronika Janatjeva.
The ringing of carillon bells pervades the air in the whole old town area. 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.
The Klaipėda Carillon Festival is an annual festival held on 24 June when the Klaipėda Clock and Watch Museum celebrates the summer solstice, marking the astronomical start of summer. In other words, it marks a moment when the path of the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky, which does not change for a brief period of time. After the solstice, the Sun appears to reverse course and head back in the opposite direction. Carillion music celebrating this brief period of time creates a special spiritual elation and transports us to different dimensions of time.
Let’s celebrate the longest day of the year together, listening to the ringing bells of the Klaipėda Carillon!