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Geert D’hollander Named New Carillonneur at Bok Tower Gardens

The bell tower at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales is revered enough as a place to perform that there have been only three carillonneurs in it's 83-year history. Today, the fourth will be shown off to the public for the first time.

Geert D'hollander becomes only the fourth carillonneur since the tower was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929. He's currently the carillonneur at the main cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium, and has been a guest carillonneur in Lake Wales for much of this year.

"The moment you have your tower, you want to do this forever," he said during a recent interview. "It's so much fun to do. I've been playing in Belgium, in Antwerp Cathedral, for the 25 years. And I can go on for another 25."

D’hollander has been playing the carillon since his early teens, but his father, also a carillonneur, introduced him to the instrument as soon as Geert could walk.

D'hollander survived an international search that revolved around guests playing the 205-foot-tower's bells for a month at a time.

"I'm playing Antwerp Cathedral. That's probably one of the nicest carillons of the Old World," he said recently. "This is probably the nicest one of the New World. This is exceptional. The environment, the tower, the instrument itself. I mean, it's like 50 tons or 60 tons. Really incredible vibrations."

D'hollander will be giving his first concert recital this afternoon at 1:00 p.m.

- To hear a recent interview with D'hollander - including a demonstration of how the bells perform, click in the "Listen" icon above.

- And to watch him perform the classic folk song "Greensleeves," click on the video below.


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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