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Naperville’s Carillonneur

The familiar sound of bells once again rings throughout Naperville, as the Carillon Summer Concerts play on. And bringing this song to life is the Naperville City Carillonneur, Tim Sleep.

“The carillon is unique in that the instrument itself is about 500 years old in design and the instrument you have here behind me actually functionally operates exactly the same way,” said Sleep.

Sleep, who has been a church organist for over 50 years, first began carillon lessons in 2001 and became a Guild Certified Carillonneur in 2004. Now, sleep gives carillon lessons through the Park District and privately, teaching others to master the bells.

Sleep explains, “You depress one of the batons on the keyboard and that pulls down a wire that goes through linkages and it pulls a clapper against the inside of the bell, causing it to ring. So the bells themselves don’t ring, only the clapper, and the clapper only moves about oh two inches or so. The heaviest clappers are about 200 pounds, lightest clapper’s about five pounds. And then by how we choose to push down the batons will determine how loud of a sound we get out of the bells.”

One of six Guilded Carillonneurs in town, Sleep is serving his third term as president of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. And while he has played other carillons across the country, there is something special about playing at home.

“I’ve just appreciated the community’s support here, the Naperville area and the wider area, they’ve very, very musically oriented. I just think it’s a nice, other piece of the puzzle to offer for a musical experience here in town. And then I enjoy sharing the music of the bells with the community,” said Sleep.

And the community enjoys listening to the free concerts played year-round at the carillon.

The Carillon’s Summer Concert Series takes place every Tuesday till August 23 at seven p.m.


Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.


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