In unexpectedly warm sunshine outside the Bundestag in Berlin plangent bells rang across the park… and rang… and rang.
This tolling was so protracted that I realised something our of the ordinary was happening but even when I’d walked right up to the bell tower that’s visible above the trees near the Tiergarten I still didn’t grasp what I was hearing.
As my daughter, Anwen and I approached the tower through a small glade the reverberations of the bells seemed to shake the leaves. It was as though the bells were ushering us to some special place or experience. Each sound was carefully placed, in ponderous, irregular minor intervals, never forming a pattern but not random. The effect was otherworldly, like walking towards a rendezvous in Middle Earth. The power of bells to summon, to compel, was being fully exerted.
Only when we found a notice stuck on to the base did we understand that we were hearing a Carillonkonzerte. The bells were being played by Jeffrey Bossin, Berlin carillonneur.
This is an ‘instrument’ of 68 bells, weighing 48 tons, created by Bossin. We had wandered into the ambit of the International Carillon Festival 2017. This 2014 video shows Bossin playing, a piece very different in tone to the one that drew us across the Tiergarten.
The carillon was given to Berlin on the city’s 750th anniversary by Daimler-Benz. We didn’t wait for the tour advertised for the end of the concert but went on, below the veil of sound, past the Art Without Death: Russian Cosmism exhibition…
… to an appointment with some cake.