About this project
This WBEZ Curious City answer was inspired by a question from Kent Oliven, Finance Director and Treasurer for the Village of Alsip, Illinois. And for some reason, bells have been a resounding theme throughout much of his life.
It started when he lived in England as a boy and toured the country's soaring cathedrals and bell towers. As a teenager, he was moved by the novel A Bell for Adano, about a village whose church bell is melted down by Mussolini during WWII. And for all the years Oliven has lived in Chicago, he's always noticed his neighborhood church bells.
Recently, Kent and his wife Kelly were sitting out on the back porch of their Palos Park home, when the sound of church bells wafted over on the wind. "My wife said it was beautiful, and I suspected it was pre-recorded." That experience started Oliven wondering about church bells and the people who play them.
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Reporting by Steven Jackson | Art direction by Logan Jaffe | Production by John Fecile, Jesse Dukes and Shawn Allee | Development and production by Chris Hagan
More fun bell-playing by Kimberly Schafer and David Plank:
Special thanks to musicians Stephen Schwartz and Jeremy Schmetterer for notating Chance the Rapper's “Sunday Candy” for playing on the carillon.
Don't miss the audio version of this story below, or listen to it on our podcast
More information on bells and bell-playing in the Chicago area and beyond:
Carl Zimmerman runs an alarmingly thorough bell tower database: www.towerbells.org
Kimberly Schafer's blog, Bell Advocate
, is a compendium of all things “bell.”