A rare experience. Questions welcome.
What is a Carillon?
This is the most frequently asked question. The carillon is the largest and heaviest musical instrument in the world. It is defined as an instrument of 23 or more cast bronze bells, played from a keyboard. For the more formal definition, visit: www.gcna.org.
Where did you learn to play the carillon?
The creator of Cast in Bronze began his studies of the carillon at Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. www.washingtonmemorialchapel.org. He continued his studies at the French Carillon School in northern France.
Why the mask?
Originally, Cast in Bronze was a musical act of live musicians that rose from obscurity to the stage of Walt Disney World’s Epcot in a few years. Frank DellaPenna, the creator of Cast in Bronze, had always considered the possibility of performing as a silent and masked musician. His reasoning: carillons are usually heard from bell towers and no one ever sees the performer. However, when he mentioned this idea to others, they all told him he was crazy!
During those years at Epcot, DellaPenna played without the mask and costume. However, when the contract at Epcot concluded, Cast in Bronze found itself without work and searching for other venues.
DellaPenna, unsure if Cast in Bronze would survive, agreed to perform at the Florida Renaissance Festival before returning to his home. Having nothing to lose and trusting his instinct, he donned the costume and mask for the first time at this festival. Audiences were drawn to this mysterious musical presentation and Cast in Bronze found work for the rest of the year! Perhaps the mask wasn’t so foolish after all.
DellaPenna has willingly relinquished his identity to the “Spirit of the Bells” for the good of the carillon and Cast in Bronze. It is his hope that others will continue his mission to raise appreciation and awareness of this rare instrument so the carillon and the “Spirit of the Bells” will live forever.
When was Cast in Bronze created and why?
Cast in Bronze was the first musical act in the world to feature the carillon. Frank DellaPenna created Cast in Bronze in 1991 as an experiment to see if people would accept the haunting sound of the carillon combined with other instruments. Through the encouragement and support of thousands of fans, Cast in Bronze slowly evolved into what it is today.
Where are carillons located?
There are more than 500 carillons in existence. For the official world directory of carillons in the world visit: www.carillon.org
How many bells?
Both the original traveling carillon and the new traveling carillon of Cast in Bronze contain 35 bells each, (C4-C7). Each instrument weighs just over 4 tons.
What are the names on the bells?
The bells on the original traveling carillon were cast in 1980 for the John Hall family of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The eight largest bells are named after the eight children of John Hall.
The 10 new bells on the DellaPenna Traveling Carillon bear the inscription “Cast in Bronze”. The names of Cast in Bronze’s owners/founders are inscribed on the largest bell, which is called the bourdon.
Where does one learn to play the carillon?
There are a number of universities in the United States that offer courses in carillon study. For a list, visit: www.gcna.org
The North American Carillon School, located in Illinois, was recently chartered to provide carillon education for musicians of all levels, beginner to advanced. It is an affiliate of the Royal Carillon School “Jef Denyn”, Mechelen, Belgium. For more information on the school and its course offerings, please visit: www.carillonschoolusa.org
There are also three carillon schools in Europe: Mechelen, Belgium; Amersfoort, The Netherlands; and Douai, France.
How old is the carillon?
The exact date is unknown, but historians estimate that the carillon was created about 500 years ago as a folk instrument.
How can Cast in Bronze be performing at two places at the same time?
There are now three traveling carillons in the United States, making simultaneous engagements possible, thereby sharing Cast in Bronze’s music with more listeners.