Carillon Ottawa: Schubert Winterreise

Dr McCrady

The carillon Ottawa is operated by Dr. med. Andrea McCrady


On our trip to Ottawa, we had the great honor of Andrea McCrady, the bell player in Ottawa's carillon in the Peace Tower of Parliament. She has been the Official Glockenspieler of the Dominion of Canada since 2008 and plays each weekday a new music program on the carillon in the peace tower of Ottawa, which arranges and assembles itself. Andrea McCrady is the fifth person to do this honorable post and the first woman to do the job in Canada. She has her art among others at the Carillon school in Mechelen in Belgium learned. We meet them after the security check that has become necessary since the October 2014 bombing on the Ottawa Parliament. We have to prove our identity, because we are special guests of the Parliament, who made our visit to Dr. Ing. McCrady has approved. Our hostess tells us that visiting her at work is not so easy. Applications must be made, licenses granted, and even Parliament must agree, because we want to visit the Ottawa carillon. Those who sign up early enough and want to go through the entire procedure can visit them in the middle section of the Peace Tower, the central tower in the Ottawa Parliament building, and watch them at work.

 

The Ottawa Carillon is located in the Peace Tower of Parliament
The Ottawa Carillon is located in the Peace Tower of Parliament

 

Andrea McCrady's workspace is the keyboard room amid the bells of the Ottawa carillon. There are 53 of them in total, with the heaviest, the Bourdon Bell, weighing more than 10.000 kilograms. It's a strange feeling when I think about the weight of heavy metal hanging from the bars that are above the room we are in. "A carillon is a percussion instrument," explains our host. "Each bell is struck with a clapper and made to ring." When you listen to a carillon, you hear the bells, no recording or synthesizer music. That is also the reason why Andrea McCrady takes the way to the keyboard room every day and performs her planned music program for the day. “You cannot cover up mistakes in the game on this instrument. They are transmitted to the outside world just like a good game. ”It is obviously quite popular, because the young man who operates the elevator knows exactly which pieces she has played in the past few days and is very interested in what is going on today Program is ready. "Schubert songs," she laughs and points to us. "Our guests come from Germany."

 

Franz Schubert Winter song from the carillon Ottawa
Franz Schubert Winter song from the carillon Ottawa

 

She specially selected it for us so that we can use this music in our video. “You signed up early enough,” she laughs. “The choice of music for the Ottawa Glockenspiel has to be approved by Parliament.” As I think about how much work and how many permits we needed for our visit, I become more and more aware of how much trust people place in us here. We feel honored and are all the more pleased that it worked out with our visit.

 

A carillon is played with hands and feet
The carillon Ottawa plays with hands and feet

 

Then Andrea McCrady explains her musical instrument, which reminds me a little of an organ. She corrects me immediately: “A carillon has nothing in common with an organ. It is a percussion instrument in which the bells set the tone. They are fine-tuned to each other by removing metal, usually from the inside of the bell, until it reproduces exactly the tone you need. You can play a carillon with a lot of feeling by giving or taking the necessary strength from the clapper. So I can even play romantic songs like those from Schubert's winter trip. ”She sat on the bench in front of the instrument and begins to tune the individual bells. “Since my last visit yesterday, my predecessor in this position, Gordon Slater, has obviously been playing the carillon. He is taller than me and has to adjust the instrument especially for himself. Conversely, I have to do the same, otherwise the bells will not sound the way I want them to. ”She picks up each individual cable and adjusts it using an incomprehensible method until she is satisfied with the result.

 

Highly concentrated - Dr. med. Andrea McCrady on the Glockenspiel Keyboard
Highly concentrated - Dr. med. Andrea McCrady at the Glockenspiel Ottawa Keyboard

 

Then she asks us to be calm for the next twenty minutes. "I have to concentrate on my music while I'm dancing on the carillon," she says. We look at her in astonishment, and she laughs: "Yes, it's a little bit like dancing, because a carillon is operated with hands and feet." After the Bourdon bell struck twelve o'clock, she sat quietly and collectively on her bench , takes out sheet music one by one and plays Franz Schubert songs that we only hear in the keyboard room in the background and only in fragments. After striking the last bars of Franz Schubert's "Trout", she turns around and explains to us that we cannot hear all the bells in this room. “The little ones hanging at the top are too far away for their sound to reach us. The best way to hear the Ottawa carillon is to stand in front of the parliament. ”I am all the more impressed when I listen to the recording of their game at home using the brand new sound system that is recording their twenty-minute concerts. It is astonishing how soulful Schubert's songs sound on the percussion glockenspiel.

 

The steel cables over the keyboard make the bells ring
The steel cables over the keyboard make the bells ring

 

And then she winks at us and says: "Now it's your turn! Each of my visitors has to ring the big Bourdon bell. Our elevator staff is already waiting for it, because that way they know how many people are currently staying with me. ”She shows us how to get a tone out of the giant bell even with the little finger. It's actually very easy when I try it myself. And I thought that you need a lot of strength to play the carillon. We at Dr. Andrea McCrady learned. And also what it means to do something with great enthusiasm and passion.

 

Dr. Andrea McCrady - Dominion Carillonneur
Dr. Andrea McCrady - Dominion Carillonneur

 

She accompanies us to the exit and explains: “The twenty minutes I spend in the keyboard room every day is not all my work. I have to rearrange pieces of music that have been written for completely different instruments so that they sound good on the glockenspiel. I'm looking for the music program that has to be approved by parliament. This afternoon I'm teaching glockenspiel students here in the tower and then of course I have to practice, practice, practice. But what could be nicer than spending your time with music? ”How can someone say it better than a woman who dances on her musical instrument?

 

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Source: own research on site. We would like to thank Ottawa Tourism and Dr. med. Andrea McCrady of the Carillon Ottawa for organizing this visit at the Ottawa Glockenspiel.

Carillon Ottawa: Schubert Winterreise
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