[Bell Historians] Riverside

David Cawley davidl.cawley at bJdqUFNHcp8IGNQ1BCJe-vwuVhDjcshfrFQW1ZdOJjawQemFgX06kH2eqGNYV5BFM2xcg3hJVjOsSsKTj1ftaj8GMQ.yahoo.invalid
Mon Mar 22 11:50:05 GMT 2010

One of the worst features of the G&J carillon at Riverside NY was the distance betwen the several tiers of bells. The five huge swinging bells which formed five notes at the bass end of the clavier - with power assist, as they had to have massive external hammers - were of course at the bottom, and there were five or six tiers of bells extending up the tower. The latter is nearly 400 ft high, the bells near the top, with little around it to be an adequate listening area, so as a concert instrument it has its limitations. The late Frank Godfrey was in NY installing the heavy 21-bell chime (now a carillon) at St Thomas Church just as G&J completed at Riverside. To the chagrin of Cyril Johnston, ABC decided that the Riverside bells were too difficult to record for its "Christmas Bells" interlude, and so it was the Taylor chimes at St Thomas which were used. FCG visited Riverside after G&J had left and wrote home, "It was just like being in a plane cabin - pistons, switches and flashing lights everywhere".  

Chicago, on the other hand has an excellent concert area before which Daniel Robins used to play great music seated at the clavier in full tuxedo, tails and bow tie!  Although it too has five great swinging bells, the disposition of the carillon is far better than at Riverside. But I gather that the Johnston six-octave carillon never really did catch on, and certainly there is only one other (by P&F) with over 70 bells, also in the USA and much lighter ("The smaller bells", the late Jim Lawson wrote to me "resemble tone bars.")

I have wondered if the best solution to Riverside's problems would be to take the non-swinging bells right out, leaving the five big swingers as a unit in themselves, unconnected to the carillon. The remaining 11 G&J bells could form part of a new and more manageable carillon - say 5 octaves, 61 bells, of the calibre say of Washington or Lake Wales (Bok), Eb ("Great Peter") instruments of unsurpassed excellence.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: matthewhigby at v9Zm-OuY0FNFbiMGIQJATogaetEHQHeFoZ-9eOunzNNRajtWGkjQVya7B0PRfMCyHms4aSFA_mtrvSs.yahoo.invalid 
  To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com 
  Sent: Monday, March 22, 2010 10:52 AM
  Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] Riverside


  I saw the new Riverside bells at Whitechapel in 1999, just after they had been inspected by a carillon 'expert' from The Netherlands - I'm not sure who! It was my understanding that the top 58 Van bergen bells had been replaced - upto about one ton in weight - the biggest that they could fit in the lift. The new Whitechapel bells were pure G&J profiles at the larger end, blending into std Whitechapel shapes for the smaller bells. The trebles were almost solid - just a hole with a shoulder up the middle for a bell bolt.

  I was told that Whitechapel had done a lot of research on G&J bells and had visited other G&J carrillons (Chicago included). They cast a 7cwt test bell before they cast the Riverside set - this was later bought by myself and now forms the tenor of the G&J style octave at Marston Bigot, Somerset. Whitechapel also had stamps made for the traditional "batwing" frieze and the 1920's 'hobnail' letters (several different sizes).

  I'm sure Nigel is lurking in the background watching all this - he'll certainly be able confirm the above!

  Best wishes,


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