New CD celebrates bells of Norwich

Norwich - The Friends of the Norwich Bells will celebrate completion of a unique three-year project to record the tones of more than 100 Norwich bells large and small, historical and artistic.

The group will release the "Ring Out Rose City" CD during a 10 a.m. press conference April 16 at Central Baptist Church. But the group will present the first copy to Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom on April 15, prior to the City Council meeting.

"To make the presentation to the mayor is important, because it's become more than the Friends of the Norwich Bells' project," Friends President Kevin Harkins said. "I think it's big because so many people in Norwich have come together to help us out with it."

For the past three years, Harkins, city historian and Friends Vice President Dale Plummer and others have brought recording equipment to churches, mills, fire departments and schools to record the city's bells. They added recordings of some backyard wind chimes as well.

The CD includes historic bells at the Ponemah Mill in Taftville, the First Congregational Church in Norwichtown and the City Hall bell, recorded from high atop the cliff on Jail Hill.

Plummer was pleased that the Friends' board of directors voted to allow proceeds to fund repairs to some of the bells. The $15 CD will be sold in local shops and online at the group's website.

Central Baptist Church's newly restored bell is one of the few known bells in the city not on the recording, Harkins said; the repairs were done after the CD was completed. The bell at St. Mary's Church in Greeneville remains out of commission and in need of repair.

Harkins hopes to add these bells and a new carillon at Evans Memorial AME Zion Church, which also didn't make it in time for the CD, to a revised CD in the future.

Harkins said the group battled modern traffic, wind and other noisy intrusions when making the recordings. To avoid the traffic at the Norwichtown Green, they had to record the First Congregational Church bell at midnight. Instead of cars, you can hear crickets on the recording, he said.

The crew traveled to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor to record the bells of Black Maria Engine 1386, the trolley that worked the Ponemah Mill area in Taftville from 1895 to 1964, and Trolley Car 65, which ran in Norwich from 1907 to 1925.

The tracks are identified by number on the CD jacket, but the CD producers decided not to name the bells on the recording.

"Originally we were going to, but for people listening at the dinner table or on Christmas morning or in the car, it's much more pleasant without narration," Harkins said.

c.bessette@theday.com

If you go

WHAT: "Ring Out Rose City" CD release press conference

WHEN: 10 a.m. on April 16

WHERE: Central Baptist Church, 2 Union St., Norwich

BUY: Order CDs at www.friendsofthenorwichbells.com or call (860) 319-5717

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