Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's
Rainbow Tower Carillon
An early 78
rpm sound recording of the Rainbow Tower Carillon
courtesy of James Brown
A view of the Carillon Tower and the entrance to the Rainbow International Bridge
The Rainbow Tower Carillon is located at the at the Canadian entrance of the Rainbow International Bridge on Falls Avenue. The Carillon is 165 feet (50.3m) tall and consists of a set of 55 tuned bells hung within this tower.
The bells were cast and tuned by the John Taylor & Company of Loughborough, England. Bell castings began in 1941 but was interrupted by World War II. Work resumed in 1945 and was completed in 1947.
The music range of this carillon is one of the broadest in the world. It covers a musical of four and a half octaves chromatic omitting the lowest semi-tone. Although a bell sounds one note, there are five distinct tones in every carillon bell. The bells cost $48,000 to make.
The inaugural recital of the Rainbow Tower Carillon took place on July 1st 1948.
A side view of the Carillon Tower
The bass bell is the fifth largest in the world. The "Bourdon", is the largest bell weighing 10 tons and measuring 8 feet in diameter and 6.5 feet in height. It gives a natural E note. The bell clapper weighs 325 pounds.
The smallest bell weighs less than 9 pounds and measures 5.75 inches in diameter and 5.25 inches height producing a natural B note.
The entire set of bells weigh 43 tons.
The Rainbow Tower Carillon is played form a piano type keyboard. Recitals were played on a regular basis during the summer season and on holidays.
The bells of the carillon are played by pushing down on a series of 55 oak batons spaced two inches apart and a series of 30 foot pedals. Sitting nine storeys above the ground level, the carilloneur, sits in a tiny room at the console which is called a clavier. Above this ninth floor are the smallest 45 bells while the largest 10 bells are located below.
A close-up view of the Carillon Tower
The batons and foot pedals are connected to stainless steel cables each which connect to the clapper of each of the 55 bells. The clapper of each bell is positioned only two inches away from the wall of each bell. When the hand batons and foot pedals are pushed the clapper strikes the bell. The bells are stationary, only the clappers move. The clappers are balanced with springs so that even the 325 pound clapper on the Bourdon is easily rung.
The Carillon Tower is equipped with an elevator that makes stops at nine different levels. When built it contained a furnished apartment and a shower for the carilloneur.
In 1998, the Carillon Tower underwent extensive interior and exterior renovations. The Carillon was silenced until completion of construction in April of 2001.
Since 1986, Gloria Werblow of Williamsville, New York had been the carilloneur. Recitals took place every Friday evening as well as every Saturday and Sunday (afternoon and evening). Ms. Werblow has since retired.
Since 2002, the Carillon Tower was automated allowing the
playing of a recording of the bells. Currently the recordings are played up to
three times a day - year round. The automation allows for the playing hundreds
of tunes. The Carillon is played daily from at:
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Carillon Tower (2001) after being refurbished
|NIAGARA FALLS THUNDER ALLEY NAVIGATOR|
THANK YOU FOR VISITING
Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's
RAINBOW TOWER CARILLON