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First-Plymouth to celebrate carillon restoration with concert
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First-Plymouth to celebrate carillon restoration with concert

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First-Plymouth carillon bell tower

A Nov. 14 concert will celebrate the restoration of First-Plymouth Church's carillon.

A carillon concert celebrating completion of the restoration of First-Plymouth Church’s carillon is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at 20th and D streets.

The hour-long concert is free and open to the public. First-Plymouth’s Music and Fine Arts Board will serve cake and coffee as the tower bells jubilantly ring once again.

First-Plymouth’s carillon has been under major renovation since June. The Verdin Bell Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, was contracted to do the restoration.

The project included repairing and updating the console and transmission system that connects the bells to the instrument, replacing some of the bell clappers and annealing the remainder of the clappers to extend their life, repairing the umbrella system that protects the console from moisture, and refurbishing the bell frame that has corrosion concerns.

First-Plymouth’s carillonneur Kathie Johnson will be joined by Jacob Mason and Jeremy Spale at the concert. The program will feature pieces written and arranged by former carillonneurs from First-Plymouth along with several pieces by early notable carillonneurs.

First-Plymouth’s carillon was the first true carillon in Nebraska. It was dedicated on May 30, 1931. A major renovation was completed in 1990. First-Plymouth’s carillon includes 57 bells; the largest weighs 5,000 pounds and the smallest bell weighs 30 pounds.

Johnson became involved with the carillon through her husband, Ray Johnson, who ascended the bell tower stairs for 39 years playing for church services, weddings and a variety of other events. Kathie Johnson continues this practice.

The best place to hear the concert is in the church courtyard. Bring your lawn chair and a warm jacket or blanket if the autumn afternoon weather is cool. Pilgrim Hall will also be accessible.

For more information about First-Plymouth Church, visit www.firstplymouth.org.

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