BellFest Salutes Australia’s Inaugural Festival of Bells

Congratulations to Australia's inaugural Festival of Bells! The event centered around Bathurst's recently-upgraded and now world-class War Memorial Carillon. Music, celebrations, ceremony, and family events brought this wonderful structure to life. Opened in the 1930s on Kings' Parade, Bathurst’s carillon is the centerpiece of the city and one of only three carillons in Australia – the other two are at Sydney University in Sydney and Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

A wonderful three-day program of free events (May 7-9, 2021) included the world premiere of a commissioned didgeridoo piece by Gerard Brophy, specially for carillon, plus recitals honoring Australian peacekeepers and thanking essential services.

The first evening of the festival, on Friday, recognized the carillon's importance as a war memorial and was followed by a Saturday and Sunday crammed with musical performances from carillonists from across the state, along with local musicians and school ensembles. All three days were streamed live on YouTube.

Here’s to more occasions for making it ring – from coast to coast and across the globe!

Singing Tower: The War Memorial Carillon

The War Memorial Carillon of 35 bells was constructed in 1933 as a memorial to the citizens of Bathurst who served their country and lost their lives during World War I. Inside, an eternal flame of remembrance is protected by two great doors commemorating both the first and second World Wars. Across the monument, plaques and inscriptions honor acts of valor and sacrifice made by Australian servicemen and servicewomen.

Located on Kings' Parade, a parkland bounded by William, George, Church, and Russell Streets, the memorial serves as a lasting tribute to Australia’s heroism in the defense of liberty. The façade is inscribed with the dates and names of the World Wars and subsequent conflicts:

1914 - 1918
1939 - 1945
Malaysia Vietnam

A January 11, 1933, article appearing in The Bathurst National Advocate proclaimed, “Bathurst had the ambition and courage to aim at a memorial entirely without utilitarian character – a singing tower, a pure work of art, musical and architectural.” 

We can think of no better rebuttal to the savagery of war than a monument composed entirely of beauty.

Image: Drone view of the War Memorial Carillon in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia.