Saturday, August 22, 2009

Carillon Concert, Peach Festival Sunday

One of my favorite Plainfield events is the annual Peach Festival and Carillon Concert at Grace Episcopal Church. It will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday next to the church on Cleveland Avenue, off East Seventh Street.

This year, it has a special interest for me, because I recently came across a book about the maker of the original bells in the carillon, which was one of the first in the United States and is one of just four in New Jersey. The book is “England’s Child: The Carillon and the Casting of Big Bells” by Jill Johnston, the daughter of English bellfounder Cyril F. Johnston.

Well-known as a writer on dance and art as well as her own personal odyssey through the 1970s and beyond, Jill Johnston was the unacknowledged child of one of the most prominent bell constructors of the 20th century. The firm of Gillet & Johnston supplied carillon bells to major locations in North America, including Princeton University and Riverside Church.

The book alternates between a scholarly history of the carillon movement and a recounting of Johnston's quest to link to her father and his legacy.

As soon as I received the book, I read it straight through and passed it along to The Rev. Carolyn Eklund, to share with the Grace Church carilloneur Jeff Spelman, who will perform Sunday. I’m hoping that the Pittis family, donors of the carillon, will also get to enjoy the book.

Click here to see the church announcement of the event. See you there!

--Bernice Paglia


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