Springfield’s Washington Park was established in 1901 so for the past 113 years the park has been offering local citizens a place for rest and relaxation in the great outdoors. Many parks include music as part of their attraction and at Washington Park a big draw is the Rees Carillon which is the site of many free concerts, events and the world-renowned International Carillon Festival held each June
The structure can be seen from most angles in the park although trees can block parts of the view, but the Rees Carillon soars 12-stories and has three observation decks the provide a great view of the park and city.
A 30 minute tour of the carillon will provide the visitor with a look at 67 cast bronze bells that range in weight from 22 pounds to 7½ tons.
The carillon so named Rees Carillon after the donor, Senator Thomas Rees who besides serving in the Senate was also the publisher of Illinois State Register from 1881 until his death in 1933. Rees put up $200,000 along with very specific instructions for the building of the carillon. The carillon website states, “During World War I, Rees served on the International Board of Arbitration for newspapers and later for unions, providing him the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. Rees attributed his great interest in bells to visiting carillons in Belgium and the Netherlands—although his initial interest was the result of articles he had read in National Geographic, the Musical Quarterly and Art and Archeology by William Gorham Rice.”
Today Rees Carillon is one of the world's largest carillons with 67 cast bronze bells covering a range of 5 1/2 chromatic octaves. The tower must support the total weight of the bells which amounts to a whopping is 82,753 pound.
The carillon website offers the specifics on the carillon. “…s; the largest (bourdon) bell, a G-flat, weighs 7 1/2 tons, while the smallest weighs 22 pounds. The carillon was cast by the 300-year-old bell foundry of Petit & Fritsen, Ltd., in Aarle-Rixtel, The Netherlands. All of the bells are played manually by means of the keyboard located in the carillonneur's cabin.”
The carillon is supported by longstanding partnership between the Springfield Park District and the Rees Carillon Society and The Carillon Belles. Visitors that want to hear the carillon in action can come to the park Wednesday’s (June 11 - September 24) at 7:00 throughout the summer. Tours are available half an hour before the concert.
Check the website for other dates and more detailed information at http://carillon-rees.org.mytempweb.net/.