By Elizabeth Murphy
Surprising sounds floated through Carleton University’s campus on Aug. 10 as Andrea McCrady and her students in the Carillon Studies Program made a stop with the Mobile Millennium Carillon, an instrument that’s like a bell tower on wheels.
Coming off successful performances throughout the city over three weeks, the carillon made its second-last stop of the tour with a performance at the Carleton University Jazz Camp.
Stationed in the parking lot near Southam Hall, it drew a crowd of jazz camp musicians and curious spectators. The enthusiastic audience braved the heat and sun and were rewarded with cool tunes as a jazz ensemble jammed with the unique instrument.
Carillon played in jazz ensemble
“This gifted combo of Carleton Bachelor of Music students gave what may well have been the first-ever performance for carillon and jazz combo,’’ said Prof. James Wright. “It was certainly the first of its kind in Canada, and probably the first heard anywhere.”
During the jazz performance, the carillon was played by Cynthia Tauro, a recent Bachelor of Music graduate in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who has studied jazz piano.
“It was an interesting experience playing Latin jazz on the carillon,’’ said Tauro. “The overtones created a unique sound when playing with the ensemble that you don’t usually hear with the piano. It was a fun challenge to transfer my knowledge of the piano to the carillon.”
The first-time carillon player was joined in the ensemble by drummer Justine Walker, saxophonist Tariq Amery and jazz guitarist Jacob Clarke. For an instrument that usually would be reserved for the serious musical affairs of church and state, it provided a surprisingly smooth sound. The relaxed melodies were juxtaposed with the mammoth size of the structure and its assortment of 48 bells.
Students demonstrated unique musical instrument
After the jazz students finished their set, McCrady – who since 2008 has also served as Canada’s official Dominion Carillonneur – performed an impressive piece for the crowd. McCrady’s carillon students were then invited to scale the steps to the player’s keyboard, an open air compartment in the middle of the structure, to perform a variety of pieces. Striking the mallets of the keyboard, the students demonstrated the impressive sound of the carillon and its flexibility for different musical styles.
At the end of the event, members of the audience were invited to climb up and try to play a few notes themselves.
The carillon made its last appearance in the Ottawa area at the Carp Farmers’ Market on Saturday, Aug. 13, before returning to its home in Lancaster, Ohio.