Newsroom

Click image to enlarge

The soaring sounds of the carillon in Mead Chapel are a staple of campus life in the summer.

Media Contact

Ray, Sarah C.
802.443.5794

Sounds of Summer at Middlebury

August 2, 2016


Listen to excerpts from Amy Heebner's July 29 concert, including It's a Small World, Chim Chim Cher-ee, and Clair de Lune.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Late afternoon on Friday has a familiar feel to anyone who spends summers on the Middlebury campus. As the midday heat loosens its grip, the sounds of boisterous volleyball games (in various languages) fill the air, students emerge from the library, and in front of Mead Chapel a row of music stands appears. Each stand holds a printed description of the Middlebury carillon in one of the languages being taught at the Language Schools. Then, promptly at 5 p.m., the carillon concert begins, sending beautiful, ethereal sounds throughout campus and the surrounding community.

On a recent Friday, Middlebury alumna Amy Heebner, class of 1993, was the featured performer in the sixth of nine concerts this summer. Heebner, a librarian and city carilloneur in Albany, New York, played a program perfectly suited to the relaxed feel of a summer evening. She began with the Middlebury alma mater, followed by "Gamaliel Painter's Cane," and worked her way through popular show tunes, traditional folk melodies, and some beloved classical pieces. The hour-long concert drew fans from the community, who set up lawn chairs in front of the chapel. Other listeners scattered across the main quad, enjoying the music under shade trees.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the carillon series, under the direction of Middlebury College Carilloneur George Matthew Jr. with support from the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Matthew, himself, will perform four times during the summer series.

College Carilloneur George Matthew, Jr. plays the Middlebury carillon in Mead Chapel.

A carillon is typically housed in the bell tower of a church or other municipal building. Its sound is produced by at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to produce a melody, or sounded together to play a chord. The carillonneur plays by striking a keyboard with black and white keys and foot pedals that can help produce different kinds of sound. Each key is connected by wire to a bell clapper so different bells are rung depending on which key is struck.

Each week, performers make the 75-step climb up to Mead Memorial Chapel’s bell tower. The College's carillon was originally built in 1915 with 11 bells, then expanded to its present size in 1986. With 48 bells, Middlebury’s instrument is considered a traditional carillon.

All performances take place at Mead Memorial Chapel, located on the campus of Middlebury College at 75 Hepburn Road. Free parking is available on Route 125/College Street, and on Old Chapel Road. In the case of inclement weather, the concerts will still take place, and audiences are welcome to listen from the chapel steps and front landing. For further information, call (802) 443-3168 or visit www.middlebury.edu/arts. See a full schedule of campus events at www.middlebury.edu/events.

2 Comments

In consideration of the effort to go up and down 75 steps, might as well add a few more tunes. The presentation with pictures is very well done.

by Scott Buzby 51 (not verified)

What a wonderful surprise....Sounds of Summer at Middlebury! It brought back wonderful memories of the carillon's rendition of Frère Jacques and Claire de lune while I was a student at the French School in the summers 1969-1971. Merci.....

by Joseph T. Connell (not verified)

Post a new comment

We hope to create a lively discussion and invite you to add your voice. Please keep comments civil and relevant to the news item at hand. We may remove comments that do not follow these guidelines.

Your comment will be visible after it has been approved by our comment moderators.