Sunday, December 20, 2015

National Carillon Open Day and carols

The National Carillon on Aspen Island
The National Carillon in Canberra sits on Aspen Island - a small island on Lake Burley Griffin - joined by a footbridge (named after John Douglas Gordon who played the first recital).

It was 'gifted' by the Queen to celebrate the naming of Canberra and opened by her in 1970. In many ways it's from a bygone era of sympathetic Commonwealth. It's hard to imagine Britain 'gifting' a bell tower to another country nowadays. Countries might give/sell weapons (or conversely overseas aid to pay for the affects caused by the weapons) but I can imagine quite a ruckus in Parliament if the current UK government decided to 'give' a belltower to their Australian cousins.

Anyway, 45 years ago, give they did.

The Carillon is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and contains 55 bells. Apparently there's bigger carillons in the US (there would be wouldn't there!) but apparently the one in Canberra is particularly well regarded because there are no surrounding buildings so the noise from the bells carries quite a distance.

It's actually very unusual to be allowed into the belltower. It only opens once a year to the general public and there were only 10 short tours of 8 people so the fact that the three of us made it into the tour was quite an achievement!

While we waited for our turn we lay on the grass and spotted animals and other shapes in the clouds. It was good fun listening to the childrens' imaginative minds.

It was also really nice seeing the kid's reaction when we reached the top and saw the largest bell (none of the guides were quite sure what it was called) as Audrey and Eli hadn't seen anything like it before and Audrey was quite taken aback by the size.

Afterwards a small choir sung carols and the bell chimed Christmas tunes in unison. Audrey wanted us to stay and sing, which we did. A lovely afternoon out.

I think they were laughing at me!

the back of the keyboard (the wires connect to the bells)

Some of the 55 bells

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