Behrend’s Smith Carillon Concert Series to begin July 11

The Smith Chapel at Penn State Behrend

The Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon at Penn State Behrend was built in 2002. The smallest of the 48 bells weighs 15 pounds. The largest weighs 1,344 pounds.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

ERIE, Pa. — The Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon at Penn State Behrend is a super-sized wind chime. The sound of the bells carries across the Behrend campus, marking the quarter-hour.

On concert nights, however, the notes tumble into something different. When Jennifer Lory-Moran performs, for example, you’re likely to hear “Big Yellow Taxi,” by Joni Mitchell, or “On the Road Again,” by Willie Nelson.

“A concert carillon is a unique instrument," said Chris Fox, assistant director of civic engagement and programing at Smith Chapel. “The sound travels, sometimes as much as a mile, and the carillonneur is largely out of view.”

This year’s Smith Carillon Concert Series begins July 11 with a performance by Lory-Morgan, the adviser for the Cornell University Chimes Program. The concert will begin at 7 p.m.

Three more performances will follow:

  • July 18: Abby Pan, a graduate of the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium

  • July 25: Joseph Min, a student in the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and a carillonneur at Riverside Church

  • Aug. 1: Andrea McCrady, the Dominion Carillonneur at Peace Tower Carillon In Ottawa, Canada

All performances begin at 7 p.m. The concerts are free and open to the public.

Seating for the concerts is on the lawn of Smith Chapel. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs. The sound carries, however, so visitors may utilize other areas of the Behrend campus, away from the 80-foot bell tower.

The Smith Carillon — one of just 166 in the United States — was installed in 2002. The smallest of the 48 bells weights 15 pounds. The largest weighs 1,344 pounds.

No springs, levers or electronics are used in a carillon. The carillonneur strikes the bells by hitting a keyboard-like clavier with a loose fist. The larger bells are struck with a foot pedal.

The carillonneur performs in a small room at the top of the bell tower. A live video feed from that room to a screen on the chapel’s patio adds to the Behrend concert experience.

Smith Carillon classes at Penn State Behrend

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon at Penn State Behrend, the college offered free carillon classes. Students climbed to the top of the tower to play the carillon's 48 bells. 

Credit: Penn State Behrend