Brady Fredericksen

The 18th annual Cook Carillon Concert series will return to Grand Valley State University again this summer.

The event, which will be held at the Allendale Campus every Sunday from June 24 to Aug. 19, will feature the talents of different carillonneurs as well as university carillonneur, Julianne Vanden Wyngaard – the musician behind the clock tower’s musical chime.

“It’s my job, it’s what I do and I just think we’re very fortunate to have artists come here to play our instruments,” Vanden Wyngaard said. “It says that this is an instrument that is worthy, that our setting here is worthy … it’s worth (the artists) time to come here and have their work be appreciated.”

Along with the series running throughout the summer, the concerts will be free of charge and will be hosted at both the Allendale and Pew Campuses. Those held at the Pew Campus will run every Wednesday from July 11 to Aug. 1, giving those who wish to attend a chance to hear the music twice a week – rain or shine.

While the idea of summer concert series are a norm this time of the year, the concept of the carillon can be foreign to some. Unlike many concerts, the carillon is never actually seen by those in attendance, though GVSU does have a camera system, allowing for fans to get a glimpse of artists like Vanden Wyngaard as they play the bells.

“You’re sitting out in the grassy yard, sitting free to let your mind be where ever you want it to be – not in a room holding 500 people – and you’re out in nature seeing a lot of things,” Vanden Wyngaard said. “On the other hand, we have people who will walk around while they listen. We watched boys come here and learn to ride their bikes here on Sunday nights. It’s your time to do what you want while you listen the music.”

During the July 1 concert, fans will be able to do what many times they cannot. Vanden Wyngaard will host an Open Tower Concert, giving those in attendance the chance to come in an hour early to get a tour of the chamber, featuring 48 bells.

“That’s especially enjoyable for me because I get to help enlighten people, they all come with a preconceived notion of what it is,” she said. “I’ll usually give them a little history lesson, talk about the size of the bell, show them how it all works, then I’ll usually play a piece for them so they can see it in action.”

As the season wraps up in August, there will be one very large attraction coming to the GVSU campus. On August 12, Vanden Wyngaard will team with native-Texan George Gregory to play The Chime Master, a 26,000-pound carillon.

“It’s a portable carillon and it will be done on the ground so people can actually see it being played,” Gregory said. “I find Julianne as a superb musician, so it’s wonderful to play duets with her. I’m just looking forward to being there.”

That concert will be performed with the bell on a flat bed truck and will be held in Parking Lot F.

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