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Albany, New York


Weekly concerts at Albany City Hall:

Tuesday noon, Charles Semowich

Wednesday noon, Amy Heebner

Thursday(alternate) 12:30pm, Pieter Blonk

Future events:

December 31, First Night concert

We are planning a concert series next year for June and July. Most concerts will take place on Sundays at 3 PM.


This is a non profit group incorporated un the laws of New York State. We are dedicated to the furtherance of the Albany City Carillon. We sponsor concerts, lectures, publications and activities related to the carillon. Membership is open to all and may be tax deductible. We have three classes of membership, Active $5 , Patron, $15, and Benefactor $50. Members receive special invitations, private tour of bell tower, may request specific music, discounts on carillon items and a newsletter. Send dues, name, address, e-mail address to the address below.

Fantasy and Fughetta by Robert Starer

The Friends of the Albany City Carillon has recently commissioned and published a piece by the internationally known composer, Robert Starer. The piece is seven pages in length and accessible for most players.

Robert Starer was born in Vienna in 1924 and studied at the State Academy in Vienna, the Jerusalem Conservatoire and at Julliard. He became an American citizen in 1957. He has taught at Juilliard and CUNY. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letter, Medal of Honor from the President of Austria, Honorary Doctorate from State University of New York and others. His stage works include three operas and ballets for Martha Graham. His orchestral works have been performed by major orchestras and under such conductors as Mitropoulos, Bernstein, Steinberg, and Mehta.

Interpreters of his music include Janos Starker, Leontyne Price, Itzhak Perlman and many others. Excerpts from his book, Continuo: A life in Music, have appeared in the New Yorker and others. Recordings of his music are available from CRL, VOX, Albany Record, Transcontinental and MMC.

This commission was made possible by public funds from the Arts Community Connection program of the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization program.

Copies of this music will be sent gratis to anyone requesting it and supplying postage (for three ounces).

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Albany City Hall Carillon, Albany NY

      The Albany City Carillon was installed in H.H. Richardson designed City Hall in 1927. It contains 49 bells with the largest one weighing 11,000 pounds.  The Albany Carillon is one of only 100 concert level carillons in North America. It was purchased by the gifts of thousands of citizens and was spearheaded by William Gorham Rice.  In 1927, the first concert was given by the world's foremost carillonneur, Jef Denyn before an audience of 50,000. Many of the world's foremost carillon performers have played the Albany Carillon.  A number of original pieces of music have been written for this instrument.

      In 1986, as part of the 300 anniversary of the City of Albany, the carillon was restored and improved.

      As part of the 70th Anniversary of the carillon in 1997, the carillon committee published a book of original carillon music called the Albany Carillon Book. It is available for $20.  It contains 26 pieces and is 100 pages long.  A special brass holiday ornament has been created. The ornament is shaped like the Albany City Tower and is available for $20.  

      The Friends of the Albany City Carillon is a group devoted to the promotion of the Albany City Hall Carillon. We are also very interested in locating new music for the carillon and encouraging composers to write for the carillon. To contact the Friends or to order the above items you may write, Friends of Albany City Carillon, Albany City Hall, Albany, NY 12207 or contact below.

Albany Carillon Book
   Below is the index to this book
   Bells Amoung the Spires by Pasquale Tassone
   Bells Ragtime by Loek Boogert
   Black Water by David Drexler
   Constellations by Abram M Plum
   Danza by Karen A Tarlow
   En Daar Zat Eenen Uil En Spon by James Lawson
   Eternal Drops by Dimitri Cervo
   Evening Song by Ira-Paul Schwarz
   Fantasie by Charles Semowich
   for carillon, for joan(convergence) by Warren Burt  
   Fugal Fantasy for Carillon by Emil Kalled 
   Fugato for Carillon by Jo Haazen
   Gerrydance by Angela Brownell Smith 
   Michael's Bells by Joseph Bertolozzi
   Monument by Andrew Hasenpflug 
   Morning Song by Ira-Paul Schwarz
   A Passacaglia in F Minor by Robert B Kleinschmidt
   Preludium Quasi Una Fantasia by Jef van Hoof
   Radiant Dawn by Mark Laiosa
   Ragtime by D. Baas
   Suzy Belle by Emil Kalled
   What the Water Gave Me, by Stefan B. Weisman
   Thoughts on Golden Rain by Jim Dalton
   Toccata for Klockspel by Ulf Grahn
   The Torch of Learning, Toccata by David Harold Cox
   Whisper and Dance by Daniel Worley

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++                       Carillon music by Pasquale Tassone, Abram Plum and Charles Semowich has been published by Fenwick Parva Press which can be reached at

Suggestions for Composing for Carillon:

It is best to compose for the standard carillon of four octaves. It is 48 cast bells, Tenor c,d,d#, e, f chromatic to high c4, with low c# omitted. Some carillons have the low B flat like Albany. There are only about 12 carillons in the world that go to the Low G while other have more notes on top. If writing these notes, ossia should be provided for the standard 48 note carillon. There is a 2 octave pedalboard(c-c2). The work should be composed with the traditional mechanical hand-played action. Some European carillons have only 1 1/2 octave pedalboards and many carillons lack the low d#. Compositions for two and three octaves are also welcomed.

Overtones need to be considered when writing for carillon. There is a significant minor third overtone, especially in lower bells. Therefore, major triads in the lower bells should be avoided, however, minor thirds, tritones, minor sixths, and perfect fourths are often used successfully. Some composers use the "Octatonic" scale of alternating whole steps and half-steps. Thick chords are to be used sparingly since there are already many harmonics in the bells. Doubling should be used carefully and usually reserved for higher notes. Since bells are not dampened, rapid changes in harmony can be a problem and a walking bass can at times be muddy. The lower bells ring longer and need to be played slower, the smaller(higher) bells can be played quite fast. For reason of balance, active bass notes against a very high treble line often produce poor effects.

It can be difficult to play rapid passages slowly if extended for long periods. The carillon can produce a large range of dynamics including cresc., dim., accents, etc.

In rapid passages, the carillonneur can usually play only one note at a time in each hand. In slower passages, one can play two notes in each had to a maximum range of a perfect fourth. Tone clusters and chords with the pedal notes are possible. The larger bells (lower notes below middle C) have a longer return time and are heavier to play, thus rapid passages are difficult. It is recommended that no more that 200 notes per minutes be employed in the lower notes. Rapid repeated notes in the lower octave are often not possible on some carillons. Rapid sudden changes in register can be awkward to play. Reaches more than a tenth in the feet and two octaves in the hands can be difficult. Rapid figurations should be written with alternating hands in mind but do not need to be so indicated in the score. It is good to remember that on the bass staff, played by the feet, one can play two separate notes together or even more if the notes are next to each other, likewise, four notes are easily played together by the hands but more are possible depending on the closeness of the notes. Large chords can be played if rolled and many European composers make extensive use of shakes in the higher notes.

These are useful guidelines but I have seen most of of rules broken to fine effect. Usually the music is scored with the hands playing the treble staff and the feet the bass staff. Performers are used to the leger lines in the bass staff keeping mind that pedal notes on this staff can reach the c above middle c. Obviously, 8va should be used for very high passages in the treble staff. There is a very wide range of musical possibilities even with these guidelines. If there are any questions, please contact the undersigned.

Friends of the Albany City Carillon
c/o Mayor's Office
Albany City Hall
Albany, NY 12144