Cast in Bronze is a musical act, notably including one of the few portable carillons, a musical instrument consisting of 23 or more tuned bells. Mounted on a frame, the instrument is played by striking with fists and feet wooden levers that are wired to each bell’s clapper. Due to their enormous weight, carillons typically reside in towers or other permanent structures.
Originally, Cast in Bronze began as an experiment to determine if the carillon could be combined with other instruments: keyboard, bass guitar and drums. Cast in Bronze rose from obscurity to the Fountain Stage at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, where it remained for several years.
The individual responsible for creating Cast in Bronze is carillonneur Frank DellaPenna. Frank first learned to play the carillon from his childhood piano teacher, the late Frank Pechin Law. After finishing college, Frank resumed studying the carillon in Tourcoing, France. There he became the first American to graduate from the French Carillon School with the degree of Master Carillonneur.
Frank worked at several jobs prior to founding Cast in Bronze. Most recently, he served as resident carillonneur for the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: a position previously occupied by his mentor and first carillon teacher, Frank Pechin Law. He remained as resident carillonneur for 8 years until an unexpected encounter with a stranger occurred. The stranger was impressed with Frank’s playing and indicated to Frank that more people should see how the carillon is played. All along Frank had been holding onto a dream to share the beauty of the carillon with listeners. Two weeks later, this same stranger provided Frank with the carillon that was to become the centerpiece of Cast in Bronze.
This carillon has 35 bells and weighs four tons. Based in the Philadelphia area, Frank takes Cast in Bronze on the road for about 10 months every year, playing to audiences around the United States.
Most regular bookings of Cast in Bronze are for Renaissance festivals since the carillon experienced its zenith of popularity and historical significance during that period. Carillons date back to 15th century Europe where they were usually owned by communities and housed in churches or other municipal buildings facing onto a village square. People gathered outdoors to be entertained by the bells. However, the musician was hidden from view within the cabin of the bell tower so the carillonneur was never seen, thus the reason why Frank wears a black costume while performing. His face is concealed by a golden phoenix mask. All but his hands and eyes are covered as a symbolic gesture to downplay his identity and role in creating the music.
Cast in Bronze also performs annually at Musikfest, a ten-day event which takes place in Bethlehem, PA during August.
In 1995, Cast in Bronze played for Pope John Paul II during a Mass celebrated in New York City’s Central Park. Cast in Bronze also participated in Alice Cooper's 2004 Christmas Pudding benefit concert in Phoenix, Arizona and has been invited to play at a Presidential Inauguration.
Cast in Bronze has made several recordings that include original compositions by Frank DellaPenna plus works of other composers arranged for the carillon by DellaPenna. Musical genres from classical to contemporary are spanned.
Currently, Frank is undertaking a project that will lead Cast in Bronze in a new direction. He has scored a musical titled, “The Bells” which will feature the carillon onstage.
Cast in Bronze recently appeared on NBC's summer reality talent show America's Got Talent where he was selected by the judges to compete in the YouTube Snapple Special. However, he received three X's from the judges and was among the first acts eliminated.
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