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By whom the bells toll
Perched in a tower above the majestic Riverside Church, an octogenerian musician presides over the venue’s crown jewel — one of the world's largest carillons.
 

Born in Manhattan on February 10, 1931, Dionisio Lind has been The Riverside Church's main carillonneur since 2000. Carillons originated in the European "low countries" in the 16th century, and according to the World Carillon Federation, they must have at least 23 bronze bells and must form a fully chromatic scale. The carillonneur plays on a keyboard using his or her fists to play the keys, known as batons, and stepping on a pedal keyboard.

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Having grown up playing piano and listening to jazz and gospel, Lind first learned to play the carillon in the 1950s from a Dutchman hired to play at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Harlem, where Lind was baptized. The church eventually sent Lind to study at the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium, where he trained for six months in the 1960s. He held the carillonneur position at St. Martin's for 25 years.

Lind first played at Riverside Church, home to one of the world's largest carillons, in 1971 for the funeral of prominent civil rights leader Whitney Moore Young. In 2000 he was asked to come on board as Riverside's principal carillonneur.

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Officially "The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon," the instrument was gifted to the church by John D. Rockefeller Jr., in memory of his mother, and installed in 1932. With 74 solid bronze bells, it weights over 100 tons and is the world's first to range five musical octaves. The church's tower rises 392 feet and has an open-air observation deck right above the carillons, providing a 360-degree view of the city, although it has been closed to the public since 2001.

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Narratively is an online magazine devoted to original, in-depth and untold stories. Each week, Narratively explores a different theme and publishes just one story a day. It was one of TIME's 50 Best Websites of 2013.

 

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