Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Bells of Saint Harvard

The Russian bells are going home.

If you've ever spent a Sunday afternoon wandering through the streets of Harvard Square, you may have heard the strange but beautiful sound of Russian bells waking Harvard's late-risers.

Or perhaps you've been lucky enough to drop in during the annual Lowell House hodge-podge production of the 1812 Overture, complete with water glasses, balloon-n-blowtorch "cannons", and yes, Russian bells.

But if you haven't heard these bells, they are simply too hard to describe. They sound like church bells, and yet, not like any church bells you'd hear in other U.S. locations. Something about the way these bells are made, and I can't explain the science behind it but I know it's true, makes these bells sound amost off-key, but again still beautiful. (The late-risers who suffered through the Russian-bell alarm clock might argue this last point.)

But despair not, because Harvard is getting a replacement set of bells from Russia, along with what seems like plenty of money to cover the costs of physically switching out the multi-ton instruments. (Because, you know, Harvard needs the money. Sorry, cheap shot.)

The bells have a pretty interesting story, which you can read about here, and here. And for a little fun, you can even play virtual bells at this site.


HipWriterMama said...

Oh, that's so sad. I haven't heard these bells in many years, but they are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

Nancy said...

Hopefully the new bells will sound just as good!