A Fun Project - contributing to European causes

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A Fun Project - contributing to European causes

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:24 am

At Margo Halsted's request, I am no longer quoting her e-mail post directly (though of course it did already go out to the entire members list).

The GCNA Members' List recently received a message soliciting donations to fund the carillon school of Mechelen, Belgium commissioning a mobile carillon, including the idea of there being a special GCNA Bell, paid for by GCNA members. (So far as I know, this has not been discussed or endorsed by the GCNA Board, but then, I'm not on the board.)

My issue with it is this - the Belgian government heavily subsidizes the carillon, including the carillon school in Mechelen. That is one of the reasons admission there is rather inexpensive. Nearly all the official carillonneur positions in Belgium are government funded (in most cases, municipal governments). In the US, almost none of the carillon positions are funded by any government - I cannot name even ten North American carillons where positions and programs are funded directly by any level of government. (One could quibble this in the case of the many state universities that have carillons, but in those cases, they certainly aren't examples of the government making the carillon a line item.

Personally, I think it takes some chutzpah to propose such a thing. I mean no criticism of people who think it's a good idea, but wouldn't a similar project for North America - an instrument North Americans might actually see and hear - be a much better cause. I'd like to see a good traveling carillon that is consistently presented without being surrounded by synthesized karaoke instrumentation, masks, and a circus act. (The folks who do "Cast in Bronze" do what they do well, don't get me wrong, but I believe the theatrics don't put across carillonneurs as anything like normal musicians.)

I am reminded of a similar project years ago, in which US donations were solicited to put a carillon in the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Netherlands needed yet another carillon?? Well, they got their carillon. It has almost no funding, no guest artists, and when the City Carillonneur of The Hague retired recently (Heleen van der Weele), she kept on with the Peace Palace, but is paid way below a normal rate for her services, hence it is done on a rather unprofessional level. Is this a good outcome for donations from other countries? Just how has that carillon made an impact?

Mind you, I mean no criticism of people sending their money in for the Belgian mobile carillon if they believe that's a worthy cause. That's really their business. I object to the idea of the GCNA making an official contribution, and hope that has not in fact happened. (Tim Sleep may want to weigh in on this.)

I'm certain there are others who will disagree with me. Great! Let's have a discussion here!
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Re: A Fun Project (Margo Halsted's traveling carillon posting)

Postby FrancesNewell on Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:03 pm

However, if it opens up more possibilities of combining carillon with other instruments, then I believe this carillon will benefit our whole carillon world. It certainly does not have to require players wearing masks or being a "circus act". As I have argued in previous discussions, it's all in how MUSICALLY you play it!.
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Re: A Fun Project (Margo Halsted's traveling carillon posting)

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:17 pm

Sure, but wouldn't our funding be far better spent for musical things happening over here - where we might actually hear the results?
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Re: A Fun Project - contributing to European causes

Postby JohnGouwens on Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:02 pm

Tim Sleep has run into some sort of password problem with the forum, so at his request, I am posting his response on this topic:

The GCNA is not contributing any of its funds towards this project. No request or action on this took place at the recent Congress. The Belgium traveling carillon fund raising is a private initiative to which members and/or non members are free to contribute to the level they wish. Yes, a bell has been selected in honor of the GCNA but I don't feel that this designation on the plaque is to the detriment of the Guild and does not imply that our corporate funds were used.

We allow a variety of announcements to take place at our meetings and electronic media, but we will always be clear if and when it is a GCNA supported and/or endorsed activity. A similar example is the announcements about the various regional gatherings over which the Guild provide no support nor control.

I do think that traveling carillons, in general, can be a valuable PR tool to get people to understand the nature of our instrument and how it's played.

I brought the ChimeMaster carillon to Warrenville several years back for five different recitals around town. To this day, people still will comment to me about those recitals and how much they learned about the carillon. Should I ever find the funds I would do it again.

I will also say that several times a month I meet people at the Naperville Carillon who tell me they heard Cast in Bronze. This gives me the chance to tell them about our carillon and what we have to offer. I think there is room for all of us.


Tim Sleep
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Re: A Fun Project - contributing to European causes

Postby FrankDellaPenna on Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:25 pm

John, Stop insulting Cast in Bronze and the people connected with it. What I do with the traveling carillon is my business, not yours. If you don't like what I am doing with the traveling carillon (s), then go out and buy your own traveling carillon and prove to me that you can make a full-time living with it as I have done. When you can do that, you can talk about me and tell me how wrong I am, but until then, stop insulting Cast in Bronze!

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Re: A Fun Project - contributing to European causes

Postby JohnGouwens on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:55 am

OK, Frank! I considered trying to tame down my wording above, as I do see your point. Unfortunately, that creates problems with the responses that followed, so instead, I'll say the following:

I am sorry for the pointed comments I made above regarding Cast in Bronze. I hereby apologize for that. Indeed, the success you have had with Cast in Bronze is wonderful, in particular the fact that is has more recently led to an all-carillon CD. There are very good reasons why you were appointed to teach the promotion of the carillon, which is something many of us, including myself, don't do nearly as effectively as we should. You have done something creative, and impressively successful, and my hat is off to you for that.

- John Gouwens
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