Musicians flock to Michigan for 75th Carillon World Congress

Jun 26, 2011

The sound of carillon bells will fill the air this week as Michigan hosts the 75th Carillon World Congress.

A carillon is a set of tuned bells in a tower, which are hooked up to a keyboard played manually by one person called a carilloneur.

Steve Ball plays the Baird carillon at the University of Michigan Baird. He says the role of a carilloneur is to "perfume the air with music for civic occasions and really make the city a more beautiful and artistically enriched place."

He says the carillon is “a completely unknown art," despite the fact that it has been around for centuries:

"It’s the ipod of 1650. It’s the way of creating a public music, something that could be enjoyed by everyone, like a public flower garden except aurally."

Ball and 200 other carillon experts will be in Michigan for the World Carillon Congress this week.

The conference, which runs June 26 - July 2, includes free public concerts at the state’s 12 carillon towers from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids. You can see a schedule here.