Hopeman Carillon is one of seven carillons in New York State. The instrument is a set of 50 touch sensitive bells in chromatic sequence played from a baton and pedal keyboard. The bells hang above the crown of Rush Rhees Library, between the top columns of the bell lantern.
2023 Meliora Weekend Information
The Arthur T. Satz Music Department at the University of Rochester and the Hopeman Carillon Society are presenting a weekend of events for the 50 Year Celebration of the Hopeman Memorial Carillon. Bells have rung in the dome of Rush Rhees library on the University of Rochester campus since the dedication of Hopeman Chime in 1930 as a living memorial for Arendt Willem Hopeman, a ringing celebration of public music and Dutch culture. The Hopeman family were specialists in shipbuilding, carpentry, and engineering. In 1973, with the approval of the Hopeman family, the chime was replaced by a 50 bell carillon with bells cast by the Dutch bellfoundry Royal Eijsbouts. A carillon is a tower bell instrument with at least 23 bronze bells played manually with a touch sensitive baton keyboard, originating from the Low Countries. The Hopeman Memorial Carillon at the University of Rochester is one of about 190 carillons in North America.
As part of the University of Rochester’s Meliora weekend celebration, current and past University of Rochester carillon players, chime players, and national and international guests will gather this October for a weekend of concerts and discussions, all of which are open to the public. These include concerts by guest carillonists Alex Johnson and Koen Van Assche. Johnson graduated in 2018 from the University of Rochester, and has since won the International Queen Fabiola Carillon Competition, and is currently the University Carillonist of the University of Chicago. Van Assche is a Belgian carillonist and pedagogue. He is the President of the World Carillon Federation, city carillonist of Antwerp, Lier, Herentals, and Turnhout, and teacher at the Royal Carillon School ‘Jef Denyn’ and Music Academy of Lier. Events include
- Song Of the Bell Carillon Concert | October 6th, 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. on the Eastman Quadrangle
The University of Rochester Carillon Studio will play a concert inspired by German poet Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Song of the Bell.” The concert will feature pieces inspired by bell culture, and pieces that reflect the poem’s subtitle:
- 50th Anniversary Concert of the Hopeman Memorial Carillon Carillon Concert | October 7th, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. on the Eastman Quadrangle
Alex Johnson ‘18 will return to Rochester to play a concert celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Hopeman Memorial Carillon. His eclectic program includes favorite pieces of U of R carillon alumni, music on nature (inspired by the University of Rochester Arboretum), and popular tunes from 1973 when the carillon was dedicated. His program will end with music written specifically for the Hopeman Memorial Carillon, including Sagoyewatha and North Star by well known Rochester carillon composer and former bellman Charles Zettek, and Johnson’s own award winning composition Butterfly Fantasia. Johnson’s concert will be followed by a reception at the Hawkins Carlson room in Rush Rhees Library.
- International Carillon Culture Dialogues Panel Discussion | October 8th, 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. in Dewey room B-315, limited seating
Alex Johnson, Koen Van Assche, Claire Janezic, and current and former members of Rochester’s carillon community will take part in a panel describing their work and experiences in the carillon world, and welcoming audience discussion and questions.
- Two TriptychsCarillon Concert | October 8th, 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. on the Eastman Quadrangle
Koen Van Assche will play a concert in two halves, beginning with arrangements of classical music, and ending with pieces originally written for carillon. He will begin with music by Mozart, Schubert, and Chopin, including two Schubert impromptus. The second half of his program consists of original carillon pieces, opening with a piece by Mechelen-Romantic carillon composer Jef Rottiers, followed by two US premieres: Mist Against the Cathedral by Claire Janezic ‘22, and Heavenly Creatures by Jeroen Malaise. The latter work is a cycle of four compositions, with each composition representing a season, wind direction, and ancient Chinese celestial guardian seen as a constellation.
Can't attend in person but still want to enjoy the concerts? We will livestream the event on our Facebook page!
Specific information on each of the performance dates can be found on our News & Events page.
The bells are next to Eastman Quadrangle sited near the Genesee River. From a bird's eye view the carillon location atop Rush Rhees Library positions the bells at the high point of Oak Hill between Mt. Hope Cemetery, Strong hospital complex, River Campus community, and 19th Ward across the river. Bell sound carries within hearing distance of Hopemangravesite, military graves, and over the Genesee River. During pandemic days the Westminster Chime sounding daily automatically on the lowest Eijsbouts bells sent a message the bells still ring as a constant through the years of University of Rochester campus life. Position your ears and body within the sightline of the bells to get the best live audio.
Carillonist Doris Aman and her students perform frequently throughout the year as well as to mark major University events.
A student made informational video about the Hopeman Carillon is available.
Hand-drawn diagram of the bell tower (PDF)
Those of us learning to play this valuable and unique world culture instrument will practice daily on a carillon practice instrument (not linked to the bells), consisting of a keyboard and bench. One carillon practice kit was assembled and programmed by a mixed cohort of carillonneurs, engineering, and interested students - an amazing experience where students put together the hundreds of pieces of the instrument as a team and programmed it with the sounds of bells under leadership of then student Alex Johnson.
The other carillon practice instrument was refurbished in 2018, a generous gift by donors to The Hopeman Carillon Fund.
What Is a Carillon?
A video from the World Carillon Federation presents Carillons from all over the world.
A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least 23 bells that have been precisely tuned so that many bells can be sounded together harmoniously. A carillon is larger than a chime, which is a set of eight to 22 bells.
Carillon bells are stationary; only their clappers move. The clapper or tongue of each bell is connected by a wire that receives kinetic energy from downward baton action on a keyboard. The keyboard contains a double row of rounded wooden levers that serve as the keys, known as batons, set up similar to a piano keyboard. A carillonneur (or carillonist) plays the instrument by striking batons with loosely clenched fists, and pedals with toes.
Diagram courtesy of Meeks and Watson contractors
The Hopeman Carillon transposes an octave.
Note Range of the 50 bell Hopeman Memorial Carillon on a Music Staff by Dr. Edwin Tan ‘12