University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel is home to world's 2nd largest carillon

ByZach Ben-Amots via Localish logo
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
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The South Side of Chicago is home to one of the largest instruments in the world.

CHICAGO -- The second largest carillon in the world resides on the South Side of Chicago, in the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel. It weighs 100 tons, and is made of 72 bronze bells.

The carillon is an instrument that enables a player to use hand and foot pedals, like those on an organ, to strike bells of differing sizes. Each bell has a tone that falls on the chromatic scale. It plays much like a piano, only louder and with larger keys.

To accommodate the weight and dimensions of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon, it is housed inside of a steeple. It takes 235 steps to climb to the keyboard, and a few dozen more to reach the smallest bell.

Joey Brink is the University Carillonist. He plays carillon for the entire campus to hear -- and trust us, you'll hear it -- and he also teaches a studio of 20 carillon students each year.

Each year, Brink welcomes in four or five new students to the studio. Although many of them are unfamiliar with the instrument when they arrive on campus, some go on to play carillon professionally.