Carillon


The 50-bell carillon programs provide a time for reflection and peace found not only in the beauty of the music but also the lovely campus. Give yourself the gift of time to walk or sit alone or with a friend and reconnect with the gift of life.

— James Brinson, Academy Carillonneur 



The Swoope Carillon in Barker Tower

The Swoope Carillon in Barker Tower is one of 163 traditional carillons in the United States. A gift of Henry B. Swoope (1900) and his family, the original 43 bronze bells were cast in 1926 by the English firm of Gillett and Johnston of Croydon. The bells contain bits of historic metal collected worldwide by alumni and friends of the school, including copper coins, metal from Old Ironsides, pieces of artillery shells gathered from the fields of France in World War I, a shaving from the Liberty Bell, and bits from Admiral Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Victory.

Today, carillonneur James A. Brinson plays the bells to summon the school for community gatherings and other school meetings, ring in the holidays, and entertain us with performances throughout the year. Visiting carillonneurs also give concerts frequently on Sunday afternoons during the academic year.

In 1996, the addition of six new upper bells put the carillon into concert pitch. The carillon then contained 49 bells ranging in size from 10 pounds to more than three-and-a-half tons, which ranks it 43rd in weight of the largest (lowest pitched) bell. The carillon’s tower was named in honor of Bryan Baker, who played it for more than five decades, in 1978. In 2008, a 50th bell was added to the Swoope Carillon, a low C#, dedicated to James W. Smith, Bryan Barker’s successor.   For further information regarding the carillon and the weekly recitals, please contact Jim Brinson at 717-328-6334 or brinsonj@mercersburg.edu (link sends e-mail).