Joyful sounds filled the air around the Cathedral throughout the weekend of September 20 as musicians and community members celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the 53-bell carillon in the Cathedral’s central Gloria in Excelsis tower. Along with the tower’s peal bells, this instrument was the gift of Ms. Bessie Juliet Kibbey (1857–1949) in loving memory of her grandparents, William Beckford Kibbey and Sarah Albertson Kibbey. Called “one of the city’s greatest philanthropists,” Bessie had also made one of the first payments to secure the land for the Cathedral.
The Kibbey Carillon, whose bells were cast in England and shipped to the Cathedral in the spring of 1963, contains the Bourdon bell, which at twelve tons is the largest bell in the Cathedral’s central tower and is traditionally tolled for funeral services. The carillon has since been heard by thousands of people across the country during times of national commemoration. The weekend of programs marking the instrument’s anniversary included presentations on carillon technique and repertoire, an organ demonstration, and special tours.