A CHANGE OF TUNE in a remarkable place.
Imagine the sound of chimes – eleven bells in all — ringing out from the oldest public building in Canada’s first national park.
I’ve climbed a ladder inside the belfry of St. George’s-in-the-Pines in Banff to play a unique and rare clavier keyboard; the complex of levers and pulleys activate the peal of bells in the tower.
The bronze bells were cast in the 600-year-old British foundry of John Taylor & Sons, shipped through the Panama Canal then hoisted into St. George’s-in-the-Pines’ bell tower in the spring of 1927.
The bells have retained their pleasing pitches to this day; an exquisite panel of stained glass directs attention toward the heavens — the chime up yonder in the bell tower.
LISTEN with headphones for the 3D audio effect (the acoustic image is more authentic and intimate). Right above your head, the bells are less than a metre away; the largest weighs close to a tonne. That clanking sound you hear from below is my hands activating the mechanics of the clavier keyboard.
For this experimental series of recordings — noodles in ‘real time’ – please listen for the drones of harmonic sound that trail long after the bells have been struck. Kindly comment and tell me how they ‘feel’. Do the drones please you? Is this approach – washes of bell sound – something you would like to hear in Winston Churchill Square?
It’s still winter in Banff. And the weather on this middle of March day is temperamental; the ‘white noise’ of passing traffic broadcasts the slush of snow slowly melting with the first rays of spring.
What’s remarkable about this set of chimes is how they carry throughout the town of Banff and the Bow Valley. You can hear them up at the top of Sulphur Mountain, “their chiming carried in clear, still mountain air.”
My thanks to Rev. George Belcher and the congregation for permission to play the chime at all hours of the day.