New carillon rings out in Plainfield, Illinois

On Sunday, April 20, 2014, a new carillon rang out for services at the Plainfield United Methodist Church, played both by local musicians from the Church and by an automated system. The original ten-bell chime cast by Mcneely/Watervliet in 1907, when the Church was built, grew by eight bells in 2007 and then, with the addition of five more bells on the weekend of the first performance, became a true 23-bell carillon.
Chime Master handled the procurement and installation of the new bells, cast in the Netherlands to match the sound of the original bells, as digitally recorded for reference. Chime Master also built a new playing mechanism within the 1907 console. The new mechanism facilitates play of the bells, ranging from about 2,000 pounds to 25 pounds, greatly lessening the force required from manual players. The new automated system installed by Chime Master has more than 500 hymns in memory, and the action can be triggered remotely with a smartphone. Jeff Crook, president of Chime Master, played an active role in the planning and implementation of the chime-to-carillon project. Tim Sleep, the carillonneur for Naperville, Illinois, acted as an advisor for the Church with respect to the project.
Motivation for the project began with concern about the condition of the original bells. Problems came to light during an inspection related to renovation of the Church and resulted in silence from the bell tower from 2005 to 2007. Church members raised over $130,000 to restore and enlarge the chime to 18 bells in 2007. The sound of bells ringing anew was enjoyed, but Church members were aware that 23 bells were necessary to constitute a true carillon. Fundraising continued, and with $65,000 more in donations, including a primary donation from the Dorothy C. and Richard A. Parks Foundation, the Church was able to add the final five bells.
(Source: Plainfield Patch, article by Shannon Antinori, ; Tim Sleep)

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