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Musicians flock to Michigan for 75th Carillon World Congress

Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio
One of the carillon bells at U of M's Baird tower

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.


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