Music Over the City Festival in St. Petersburg

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July 3-14, 2011

The carillon of St. Peter-and-Paul Cathedral was installed in St. Petersburg 10 years ago.  The X International Carillon Music Festival, devoted to this anniversary will take place at the Cathedral square.

There are only two carillons in Russia (the second is based in Peterhof); this one embraces  51 bells with the total weight of 15,160 tons and the sounds produced vary in the range of 4 octaves. The largest bell is 3075 kg, while the smallest one is just 10 kg.  The set of bells allows to play music of any complexity and style – from Bach fugues to contemporary jazz and folklore music.

It’s worth to note, that this carillon was arranged at the historic site. The first set of 35 bells had been purchased by Peter the Great in Holland. Unfortunately, in 1756 it was destroyed by the night lighting. The second carillon was installed in 1776, it was used till 1840, then it was dissembled because of ageing.

The revival of the carillon tradition in Russia took place at the end of the XX century. Initiated by Joseph Haazen and with a great support of numerous foundations, state structures and individuals from different countries the latest carillon was gifted to St. Petersburg, and the first performance took place on September 15, 2001.

Carillonneurs play the instrument with their fists and feet. The keyboard consists of 51 keys, and each sound is accompanied with a long echo, which should be ”defeated” by the musician to prevent the sounds from getting mixed..

Carillon was the first public musical instruments in the West-European countries. Since it can be heard at the distance of 2 to 3 kms, in the XV century it was used to notify citizens about  disasters of any kind – fires, floods, wars, etc. Nowadays only their musical aspect is of importance and  it is used for giving public concerts.

Professor J. Haazen, the director of the world-known Royal Carillon School in Mechelen (Belgioum), on a regular basis teachers at the department of carillon music at St. Petersburg State University, thus contributing to training carillon-players in our country.

I’m lucky enough to be acquainted with the professor and I’d like to say, that he is a very interesting person. He is devoted to his profession, open-hearted and very easy to talk to. By the way, his Russian is fluent. I vividly remember my first impression of being charmed with him – it was like “bathing” in the sunny rays…

He gives concerts in many countries of the world, likewise his graduates do. I should say, I can’t help admiring the music he plays. And that was he, who initiated the idea of carillon festivals and concerts in the northern capital of Russia and in my opinion, he deserves admiring…

The Carillon Festival-2011 will offer the performances, to be given by the carillonneurs from Russia, Belgium and Norway. I strongly recommend you to come to the Peter and Paul Fortress and listen to the incomparable music. The concerts will be given daily at 8 p.m. on July 3-14.