The Mahanay Tower up close

GCNO photo

Activities at the top of the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower have drawn many people to Jefferson’s courthouse square this week. After 51 years, the bell tower will finally sport a complete four-octave carillon. People have been looking up since the first of the bells arrived from Verdin Company in Cincinnati on Wednesday, some newly forged in the Netherlands and some retrofitted with strikers.

The project has involved a lot that most people can’t see. Older carillons are mechanical, with the carillonneur striking wooden levers, causing the striker to sound the bell. The Mahanay carillon is electronic and will be played by a keyboard with a touch very similar to that of any electronic keyboard.

Patrick Bradley of Verdin (left) plans to do a keyboard orientation with Greene County IT coordinator Michelle Fields (right) Tuesday. Fields is also a pianist. She’ll write whatever documentation is needed for the local volunteers who will play the carillon. She’ll also do some experimenting with harmonic intervals and chords.

The carillon’s interface board is in the elevator room near the top of the tower. Verdin built the board and Venteicher Electric  installed it. The board is built with 50 pairs of wires, a few spares in case wiring fails.

The wiring runs through conduit put up by Venteicher. That job including drilling through the roof of the bell tower. Conduit runs up the new framework that holds the smaller bells.

Yet to be done is wiring the small bells into the system and hanging and wiring the mid-size bells. Some of the bells will be hung on brackets in the new superstructure. Dave Larsen (pictured at top of tower), along with Bradley, comprise Verdin’s installation crew.

The large bells will also be wired into the system.

The work is expected to be finished by Wednesday. The premier of the full carillon will be Friday, June 9, at 6:15 pm. Rick Morain will play for 15 minutes prior to the opening ceremony of the Bell Tower Festival at 6:30.





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