Bells of Remembrance Ring at Carnegie Hall

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

NEW YORK — David Schlatter, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md., shared the sounds of his Bells of Remembrance with an audience at Carnegie Hall last month during a performance by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

David, the Province’s associate director of post-novitiate formation, was on stage while Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op 16 was played.

carnegieThe above photo was provided by Chris Deviney, principal percussionist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, who rang the bells that evening during the fifth movement of the symphony titled “Dream of the Witches’ Sabbath.” Deviney sent the photo to Francis Di Spigno, OFM, who attended the Oct. 13 concert with David’s sister.

The bells are manually rung, usually by pulling a rope attached to the clapper hanging inside the bell, David said. For concert pieces, however, the bells are struck on the outside of the bell on the “sound bowl” with a metal mallet. 

David was contacted by Bill Kerrigan, principal percussionist with the Delaware Symphony, who has used the bells in concert many times. He had been contacted by Deviney. During rehearsal, the conductor, maestro Charles Dutoit, did not like the sound of the tuned steel plates they were using and said he wanted “real” bells, David said.

“Mr. Deviney contacted Kerrigan, his counterpart in Delaware, who said, ‘I have just the person for you,’” David explained. He drove the two bells, a “G” weighing 1300 pounds and a “C” weighing 550 pounds, to the stage door of Carnegie. From there, they were wheeled to the stage area.

The Bells of Remembrance Project was organized by the Franciscan Center of Wilmington, Del., and the McShane Bell Foundry of Glen Burnie, Md., during the days immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The bells have marked each of the 9/11 anniversary commemorations for the past eight years in New York, Boston and Shanksville, Pa. David takes them to many events as a way to remember fallen heroes.

There are currently 18 bells mounted to seven trailers, said David, a native of Ridgewood, N.J. The largest bell weighs 5,000 pounds and the smallest weighs 150 pounds. They range in age from four to 125 years old, David said. They are stored in a warehouse in New Castle, Del., just south of Wilmington, where David lived before moving to Maryland.

Bells give expression “to feelings that people sometimes cannot verbalize,” David has said.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.