In My Eyes, The Millenium Carillon Has Finally Become a True Landmark


I will be the first to admit, I have not always been a big fan of the Carillon.  Partially, it has to do with the years in which the instrument and missle-like structure sat incomplete and seemingly abandoned.  Then there were the days of intense public debate over the future of this most visible community feature which at one point placed into question whether or not the instrument and structure should be dismantled given financial difficulties.  Finally, as a musician/composer who explores a myriad of music genres and plays a number of instruments in creating music for independent film, I’ve struggled to develop an appreciation for the tonal qualities of the instrument.

Today, I’m pleased to report the Carillon has finally touched my soul.  After a morning of baseball, football and soccer at Rotary Hill with my three-year old, we walked over to the base of the tower.  As he glanced upward at the intimidating structure, I explained to him the aspects of the instrument pointing out the larger outer bells resting within the tower.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stick around for tour hours, but I certainly plan to take the boys to tour the Carillon soon. 

I must confess today was the closest I had gotten to the Carillon since the final phase of construction was completed, despite the fact we make many trips to Rotary Hill.  Nonetheless, I must say the finished product is truly magnificent and now a complete landmark reflecting the uniqueness of our community.  Even more, I am actually finding some of the music to be rather pleasant.  I guess the reason I’ve struggled to enjoy the sound of the instrument is the fact it’s overall tonal range seems to be stuck in a minor key which places a strain on pieces of music written in a major key.  Clearly, certain pieces of music sound better than others and I find myself enjoying performances of songs that are well-suited for the instrument.

Regardless of whether or not you care for the sound of the instrument, it’s hard not to appreciate the uniqueness and scale of this particular Carillon.  According to the official Millenium Carillon website (, it stands at 14 stories (160 ft.) and is slightly taller than the Statue of Liberty (151 ft.).  With a total of 72 bells, the Millenium Carillon is among the largest of its kind in the world.  Admission is $3.00 (kids under 5 are free) and you climb from bottom to top via a staircase.  The Carillon is equipped with an elevator which will take you half way to the top, but still requires a few more flights to ascend to the top observation deck.   

In the near future, I plan to go up for a visit and take some photographs as well as shoot some video of the view from the top which I plan to post. 

Kudos to the many Naperville residents and leaders who worked tirelessly and transcended plenty of adversity over the past 9 years to see their vision become a reality for our community.  Your hard work and conviction has truly paid off and future generations of Naperville residents are indebted to you for the gift of this proud icon. 

If you would like to learn more about the Millenium Carillon, visit the website at:


3 responses to “In My Eyes, The Millenium Carillon Has Finally Become a True Landmark

  1. Hi Stuart-

    Let me know when you are available to take the tour – the Visitor’s Center (housed in the Netzley House) is truly an incredible addition to the community – I appreciate your views as always, but would strongly encourage you to add a visit to the visitor’s center to your list of things to do.

    Hope you are well!


  2. Hi,

    Ray Kinney forwarded your comments regarding the carillonto me and a couple of other members of the Carillon Foundation Board. I also read Ray’s comments to you regarding the visitors’ center and will add my recommendation to his that you visit there as well. There is even a “kid clavier” on which children, after being greeted by “Big Joe” can compose their own carillon music and then hear it played back. Of course, this is done on a computer with digital bells not on the tower instrument.

    Since the tower has opened to the public it has received rave reviews and comments written in our visitors’ guest book. I have been there as a volunteer guide each day the tower fhas been open since the end of July and can tell you that children have been fascinated by the whole experience. One dad even brought his young son for his fifth visit there this past week end! I think there’s a little something there for everyone from the music to the view of the Chicago skyline on a clear day.

    I really appreciate your musical perspective and your observations about carillon music played in a minor key. Because of the harmonics of the instrument most carillon literature is in fact written in a minor key. When something is played in a major key it tends to sound disonant.

    I would like to invite you to tour the tower at a time that I’m there as I take visitors into the cabin which is not part of the regular tour. I suspect you would enjoy this and I give younger children a chance to actually ring “Big Joe” at that time. The other guides don’t have access to the cabin so it[‘s a nice opportunity to see a little something extra. I’d actually like to have you take your tour when one of the carillonneurs is actually performing. We do have a Wednesday recital at noon, just before the tours begin. I’d try to arrange your visit when Tim Sleep is playing the noon recital since he is very versitily and was a music educator before he retired a few years ago. Because of your obvious interest, I’d be happy to set up a tour that would offer a little more than the standard offering. I’m not sure of the age of your children, but you might want to come the first time on your own to allow a bit more time to focus on the music and then bring the children for one of the regular tours.

    If this is of interest to you via email and I’ll send you my cell phone number so we can make arrangements.

    It has been a long journey for many of us, however we all feel it was well worth the wait. I can completely guarantee you that your newfound appreciation of the carillon will increase 100% after your tour. Without exception, every person I’ve taken through the tower , especially those from Naperville who have seen it unfold over the years, have said they felt like they were seeing it for the first time.

    Thanks for your kind comments and the time and thought you put into them.

    Best Regards,

  3. I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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