Annual carillon concert rings out in Ridge Valley
The crowd gathered in lawn chairs outside St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Allentown Road in the Ridge Valley section of West Rockhill weren’t the only ones who got to enjoy the church’s Aug. 11 third annual carillon concert.
“It rings out throughout the valley. It can be heard a couple miles,” said Mark Gottesfeld, St. John’s music director.
Some of the people living nearby have said they look forward to it, Pastor Amy Hotter said.
“We really look forward to it as well,” Hotter said.
With the music including tradition- al hymns, praise songs, Christmas music, classical, movie themes and patriotic music, the selections ran a wide gamut, including “Blessed Assurance,” “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing!,” the “Star Wars” theme, “America, the Beautiful” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
A May 2009 lightning strike destroyed St. John’s original carillon, which had been there almost 24 years. The new carillon does not have live bells but uses an electronic system to reproduce the sound, which is heard from speakers in the church tower.
Last year, rain forced the con-
to be moved inside the church, but didn’t cancel it.
“We opened the windows and people could still hear the music,” Gottesfeld said.
Along with new equipment, the current system expands the number of musical selections available from the 75 that could be played on the old carillon to the new 400.
The new carillon also strikes the hours each day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., as well as playing at select times.
Many of those at the concert are visitors to the church, Hotter said. This year’s attendance was the most in the three years it’s been held, she said.
The concert helps introduce the church’s music to the visitors, she said.
“Lutherans are proud of that. They put a lot of emphasis on mu- sic,” Gottesfeld said. “They feel it is an extension of God’s word.”
During the hour-long carillon concert, attendees were also invited to walk through the cemetery, which has headstones dating back to the Civil War.
Hot dogs and ice cream were also available for a free-will donation.
Following the carillon concert, things moved inside to the sanctuary where, in honor of the Olympics in London, Gottesfeld played 16 national anthems on the church’s pipe organ.
Andrew Carnegie paid half of the $1,700 price for the original pipe organ, which the congregation authorized to be purchased in 1904. It has been rebuilt andL or renovated in 1949, 1985 and 2007, when digital voices were also added.
“I think it’s interesting to listen to the backgrounds,” said Mark Bruder, one of the concert organizers, who gave information about each of the anthems before Gottesfeld played the song and audience members were asked to identify the country represented by the anthem.
The audience rose and sang along with, then applauded WHH fiQDO DQthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Got t e s f e l d , who has been music director at St. John’s for 14 years, started in the role as a substitute organ- ist while still a nuakertown High School student.
“I’m a lawyer on the side, so I do this on the weekend, but my real job is a lawyer,” Gottesfeld said. “I’m glad to be able to do both.”
Mark Gottesfeld, music director at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, plays national anthems on the pipe organ in honor of the Olympics.
Attendees listen to the carillon music at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.