Clock to ring in holiday spirit

GV carilloneur-in-residence to perform festive concert in Cook Carillon Tower Friday

By Rebekah Young | 12/1/10 9:43pm


GVL Archive /Andrew Mills
Judi Jaekel, Karly Dierkes, Danielle Perkins, Colleen MacCallan, and Brandon Harneck (R to L) listen to Julianne Vanden Wyngaard, the university carillonneur performing inside of the Cook Carillon Tower

With Christmas break on the horizon, students can start celebrating the season by visiting a holiday carillon concert Friday as pianist Julianne Vanden Wyngaard, the Grand Valley State University carillonneur and associate professor of music, performs holiday songs at the Cook Carillon tower from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“It’s more than just the music that provides the atmosphere,” said Lee Copenhaver, an associate professor of music who has composed for and played the carillon. “It’s a link with a rich tradition from the low countries of Europe like the Netherlands and Belgium, especially because that is where these towers are so prevalent.”

Vanden Wyngaard, who chaired the GVSU music department from 1984 to 1986, has served as the primary carillon performer and teacher on the Allendale Campus since the Cook Carillon’s dedication in 1994.

She studied piano at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University. She is also a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America.

When hour strikes on the clock tower, the Alma Mater song is programmed into the computer to automatically play. But when students hear a different tune, Vanden Wyngaard is inside playing.

“The part that we hear every 15 minutes is not meant to be musical. It’s functional,” Copenhaver explained. “But when someone is in the tower, actually playing the keyboard, it’s a real musical instrument.”

Copenhaver likened the carillon to an oversized organ with foot pedals and a large keyboard the carillonneur essentially plays with his or her fists. The Cook Carillon has 48 bells and 61 steps.

At the concert, the carillon tower will be open for tours. This will give students behind-the-scenes access to directly observe Vanden Wyngaard’s performance and see how the instrument works.

Free refreshments, including cookies, cider and hot cocoa, will be served at the event. Students will also be able to register for special door prizes. The event is free and open to the public.

Later this holiday season, the musical celebration will continue. Vanden Wyngaard will perform the Annual Christmas Eve Concert on the Beckering Family Carillon at the downtown Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

“They’re beautiful additions,” Copenhaver said of the two carillon towers. “You need to hear them live. The neat thing about the performances is that there is a television monitor, so you can watch the person playing. It’s really fascinating.”

The second holiday concert will be held on Christmas Eve from 9:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. at the Lacks International Plaza by the Richard M. DeVos Center. Free parking will be available in the DeVos and Winter lots.

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