Norwich University bell concerts kick off July 4

Bring a picnic and a lawn chair to the Upper Parade Ground on the beautiful campus of Norwich University and enjoy free outdoor concerts performed on the Charlotte Nichols Greene Memorial Carillon.

Concerts will be held rain or shine on five consecutive Saturdays from July 4 to August 1, and all concerts begin at 1 p.m. Following each original, hour-long performance, guests are invited to tour the bell tower and view a demonstration of the instrument.

Programs feature a variety of classical, folk, traditional, and contemporary music arranged specifically for carillon.

The largest musical instrument in the world, the carillon is played with both hands and feet. Notes are played by striking levers stoutly wired to the clappers of a tower’s many bells. Norwich’s carillon, one of only two such instruments in the state of Vermont, comprises 47 bells, the largest of which weighs 3500 pounds.


July 4: George Matthew Jr. (Middlebury College and Norwich University)

July 11: Gordon Slater (Canadian Dominion, carillonneur emeritus)

July 18: John Widmann (Municipal Carillonneur, Frederick, Md.)

July 25: Sergei Gratchev (Belgian Carillon School)

August 1: Elena Sadina (Belgian Carillon School)

Fun facts about carillons:

  • The art of bell-tuning was perfected in northern Belgium in the 15th Norwich’s bells were cast and tuned at foundries in Belgium and France.
  • Every carillon has a name. Norwich’s is called the Charlotte Nichols Greene Memorial Carillon.
  • To be considered a “true” carillon, the instrument must have at least 23 bells. Norwich’s original carillon had 36 bells, and in 1959 it was expanded to 47.
  • The largest bell in a carillon plays the lowest note and is called the “bourdon.” Norwich’s bourdon is four feet in diameter and weighs 3,500 pounds.

For more information about the concert series, please contact George Matthew at or 802-247-9873.