For the DailyIn the outskirts beyond college life on central campus is the unique alcove called Kerrytown. This niche of choice that includes a farmer”s produce, restaurants and shops has recently added a new public treat that resonates Kerrytown”s cultural message.
Kerrytown Chimes, in existence for about a year, was created after the owner, Joe O”Neal of Kerrytown Shops, was inspired by similar, more advanced chimes that were open to the public in a church in Ireland. The Kerrytown Chimes are a set of bells in Kerrytown”s clock tower that is played by a wooden handle keyboard. The wooden handles are connected to the bells by clappers that are linked to mechanical steel ropes. Each time someone pushes down one of the handles, the clapper rings the corresponding bell. There are 17 handles corresponding to 17 bells and each rings a different note. Like a mini-grand piano, there are about two octaves on the keyboard.
Shoppers and visitors of all ages stop to watch whomever is playing on the chimes.
“When you”re concentrating on it, it lifts you up out of your thinking and you just become so clear,” says Jane Kaufer, a senior citizen who played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for the first time on the chimes.
Heather O”Neal has been opening up the chimes and supervising the public on their chime playing experience for about six months now. She said that every time someone plays the chimes, they get a sticker that says “I played the bells at Kerrytown.” O”Neal said that she has gone through over 500 of the stickers, indicating a steady stream of people to the chimes. There are hundreds of songs to choose from and people don”t need a working knowledge of reading music. This is because the music is numbered from 1-17 to correspond to the handles that are also simply numbered 1-17. Up to three notes can be played at one time and major and minor notes are distinguishable as well.
Antonia Silverio, a 7-year-old girl, brought in her own songs that she wrote to play on the chimes. Her favorite piece is the “Bach Minuet” that she played as an audience of five and others passing applauded her performance with a smile. With the guide of O”Neal”s humming, Antonia also went on to play the cowboy song, “Home on the Range” and many other favorites.
O”Neal also commented that the chimes are an instrument that are actually studied by musicians. There is a World Carillon Federation that includes over 200 countries that participate in playing these instruments. Even here in Ann Arbor, we have Associate Professor Margo Halsted who plays the bells at the Burton Memorial Tower on Central Campus and the Lurie Tower on North Campus. The chimes are also a tradition at Cornell University played by chime masters every year.
Kerrytown Chimes is located in the Kerrytown shops and is open to the public every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12-12:30 p.m.