American Friends of the New Aarschot Peace Carillon
This new instrument (Vredesbeiaard) will consist of 51 bells, symbolizing the number of countries that had troops in Flanders in WWI, including USA. Parts of artillery shells will be melted for the new bells, as a symbol for Peace and Reconciliation.
New Aarschot Peace Carillon (BE) A Project of N | KBFUS Funds
Project of the New Aarschot Peace Carillon (2018) Safe the date: inauguration 2018 august 19th!
The Aarschot Church of Our Lady and the city is going to have a New Peace Carillon. This instrument will consist of 51 new heavy-profile bronze bells, symbolizing the number of countries that had troops in Flanders during the First World War. Parts of old artillery shells from World War I will be melted in the 7 tons bronze bells, as an important symbol for peace and reconciliation. The bells of the new carillon will be installed between level 585 and 885, the cabin and keyboard on level 885.
Plan: Architect Bart Macken
The idea for a new carillon was proposed by mr. Huub Gerits, when he was appointed dean of the Aarschot Church of Our Lady. He was surprised that this beautiful church did not house a carillon, like any other Flemish city. As Percival Price wrote, "A church tower without bells is like a body without a soul", Huub had a similar expression: "A city without a carillon is like a small village".
Aarschot Church of Our Lady
Aarschot is located in the part of Flemish Brabant called Hageland, located to the east of Leuven.The Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) definitely leaves its mark on the appearance of the city. Aarschot's main church was built out of local ferrous sandstone, alternating with white stone, a commonly known as "bacon"*. The church itself is gothic and was begun in the 14th century. The present renaissance spire was added after the original spire was struck by lightning. Aarschot is a very typical town with a long history, dating back to the era of the Roman emperors, according to myths.
The Church of Our Lady is surrounded by quiet gardens, green lawns and a nice Flemish Beguinage. This is the best locatation for a carillon. Five centuries ago, this church was ment to have a carillon, the bell chamber was made for it. After WW II plans were made to build a carillon, but only four swinging bells were actually installed.
*source: Taffi Virtualtourist
Destruction of the old Aarschot Carillon (1578)
The iconoclasm of 1566 did not harm Aarschot, but in 1578 Spanish and rebellion armies alike plundered the city and the church several times. Artworks were stolen, altars destroyed, statues burned and all bells of the carillon were thrown from the tower.
Even a miraculous statue of Our Lady was cut to pieces. For decades the church would remain in ruins. The old carillon of the Aarschot Church of Our Lady had 12 bells in 1578. The first carillon ever was built in Flanders around the end of the 15th century.
Source: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
The Great War
Aarschot is one of the seven martyr cities that have suffered a great deal during the so called Invasion of Belgium at the beginning of the Great War, before that war became entrenched in Flanders Fields. The German troops arrived in Aarschot two weeks after they invaded Belgium and one week before they had set the city of Leuven on fire, including the University Library. The damage toll for Aarschot was 480 homes destroyed, 156 civilians killed and 300 taken prisoners and transported by train to Sennelagerkampf.
American Friends of the New Peace Carillon
There is a long history of Americans assisting the carillon art in Belgium. Let's continue that history.
Americans do appreciate the value of a carillon in a city or on a University campuses. More than 180 important carillons has been installed in USA. Some examples: Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon New York city New York, Roosevelt Family Carillon Dallas Texas, Hoover Institute Carillon Stanford California, Burton Memorial tower Ann Arbor Michigan and the Yale Memorial Carillon in the Harkness tower Yale University Connecticut (photo). The American Engeneers Memorial Carillon in Leuven, Belgium (63 bells) was restaured by Margo Halsted, Associate Adjunct Professor of Music and carillonist at UCSB.
Harkness Tower Yale CT, photo: © Marc Van Eyck 2006
Preparing, Constructing and Financing the New Aarschot Peace Carillon
With the centennial of the end of the Great War 2018, Aarschot Church of Our Lady is planning to construct a Peace Carillon consisting of 51 new bells. We have hopes and plans that the carillon will be dedicated on November 11, 2018.
The new Peace carillon will be built according the Mechelen Quality-Carillon-Standard 2001 (QCS), including the VEMA system which has been already installed for the first time in Oudenaarde (Belgium). This standard was made by Marc Van Eyck, carillonneur of the Sint-Geertrui Chruch of Leuven. This QCS-standard guarantees that the new Aarschot Peace Carillon will become a top-quality instrument. The amazing features built in this instrument will allow the carillonneur to adjust the carillon in perfect shape without using any tools at all.
The New Aarschot Peace Carillon will be realized through the generous support of the national and international community. We are glad to announce that H.E. Ambassador Masafumi Ishii, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Belgium and a number of German companies already supported the Peace Carillon project.
We reserve a first small bell of € 2000 for the overseas sponsors, representing around € 10 per overseas carillon. We hope this will be a realistic goal and we are confident this small bell will grow when more donors will appear and support the new Aarschot Peace Carillon. If you do wish to donate a seprate bell of any size, please be welcome to do so. Donations coming from one country or a larger part of the world will be joined together for a separate bell. Those who donate $5000 or more can have their names inscribed on a bell.
The King Baudouin Foundation United States (https://kbfus.networkforgood.com/), a 501(c)(3) accepts tax deductible donations from US residents. Non US residents can use credit card processing offered by the KBFUS or transfer donation direct to the King Baudouin Foundation Belgium IBAN BE 10 0000 0000 0404 SWIFT BPOTBEB1 with structured reference +++128/2329/00058+++.
We would like to ask you to consider supporting this project with a small donation or even an entire bell, without any obligation whatsoever. The New Aarschot bells will righ for Peace and Reconciliation for the century, or even longer, thanks to the support of the American Friends of the New Aarschot Peace Carillon. The names of major donors will be inscribed on a bell.
On behalf of the Church of Our Lady, City Councel, the Honorary Committee and the population of Aarschot, thank you very much for your gift!
Inauguration of the New Aarschot Peace Carillon
The inauguration concert will be played by Jo Haazen, former Director of the Jef Denyn Carillon School and professor at the Faculty of Arts, Saint-Petersburg State University. Everyone who contributed to the carillon will be invited to this concert.
Thank you and we hope to meet you in Aarschot!
If you want more information about this project, organise lectures about this Peace Carillon or about the art of carillon in general or visit Belgium and its carillons, and please contact us!
Marc Van Eyck, Consultant-Carillonist New Aarschot Peace Carllon marc @ vew.be