A new peace carillon at the Park Abbey

As a child I've been taught for 2 years by the carolloneur from Bruges, Deinze and Poperinge: Aimé Lombaert. He wasn't teaching me to play on a carillon but I was in his music theory, somisation and music notes class.  Nevertheless he was talking about his carillons more than I cared for at that age.

But something must have stuck around because I was quite enthusiastic when I heard a new carillon for the Park Abbey had arrived.  The Peace Carillon is crowdfunded reconstruction of the historic 18th century abbey carillon.   That historic carillon had been moved to the main church downtown Leuven but got destroyed in the fire that destroyed most of Leuven in WWI on 25/8/1914.   The 2 biggest bells from this carillon have been funded by the city of Leuven and by the German city of Neuss whose troops set the city on fire in 1914. A very symbolic heartwarming gesture of reconciliation and indemnification. 

The bells arrived with special transport over special service roads to the abbey (as they couldn't pass through the historic entry gates) on Monday and have been displayed on the inner court yard for 2 days. An excellent occasion for the children of the nearby school to go and visit (and the 1st year of kindergarden came prominently on the local news). I also didn't want to miss it so I quickly passed by to go and have a look after I dropped the children off in school. After all, they would get hoisted in the abbey church tower on Thursday morning so it was a unique opportunity not to be missed.

It was nice to look at all the peace inscriptions, to see which local organisations or people have sponsored a bell, ... It'll be so great to hear the bells sing in our backyard and hear it's music.  It'll be so special that this new peace carillon will sound for the first time on  Nov 11th, 2018...exactly 100 years after the end of the World War. The idea already gives me chills. "Friede sei ihr erst Geläute!" is an inscription on one of the big bells.

I had flashbacks to the time that we were in Bruges as a child visiting the Belfry tower with my Australian host sister when right at that moment my music academy teacher Aimé arrived to give a carillon concert. We had the honor to join him in the top of the famous belfry tower and I even was allowed to push the pedal before each song to indicate which number we'd start to play on the concert agenda handed out down below to the tourists on the historic market square of Bruges. 

The lessons from my teacher have left some "carillon" nerdiness in my memory so I had to check the bells for a little bump to know whether they'd be a major third or a minor third carillon. Did you know that a classic bell (as these seem to be, which would make sense if they are an accurate historic reconstruction) has a resonance when played, that is a minor third? All other music instruments have a resonance of a major third when played. As a result, a concert that combines a classicial orchestra with a carillon is always a bit dissonant.  In 1988 Deinze, my home town, acquired a carillon unther the impulse of Aimé Lombaert and it was the first major third carillon in the world. These bells have a little bump as if they are pregnant. My research now shows that since Deinze, there's a major third carillon in Los Angeles , Groningen (NL) and Asten (NL) by now.
My mom's classroom was just a 100m away from the church tower in Deinze, so we enjoyed each 30 minutes from the carillon play in her class but also frequently from the practice that Aimé was doing on "his carillon" in Deinze.
The bells from the peace carillon in the Park Abbey and the carillon in Deinze come from the same bell foundry in the Netherlands. 

So anyway...I've been fed with a love for carillons in my childhood and now that a 5th (!!) carillon in Leuven will be installed almost in my backyard, I couldn't be more thrilled.  The sounds of bells is so embedded in our heritage that I miss their sound in the streets when travelling outside of Belgium/The Netherlands.

Yesterday the bells were hoisted in the church tower which delivered nice images on social media but I've not been able to witness that life.


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