Sound Lighthouse: Discovering Carillon with Simone Browne

woman in a hat and coat looking up at a carillon bell

Simone Browne is Law student at UC Berkeley who fell in love with carillon playing while at the University of Chicago. In this episode, she sheds interesting perspective on this little-known instrument so many of us have heard but haven’t realized is actually an instrument being played by a human.

A Passion for Carillon

Our conversation explores the changes over time and history of this instrument which seems like a piano or an organ, but is actually percussive and an actual workout to play (depending on how the instrument has been maintained). Carillon bells have been used in society for a very long time but the evolution into an instrument is actually more recent. Simone brings a love of contemporary music and the skill to arrange and play it on the carillon. Metallica done entirely with carillon bells anyone?

As a Fulbright scholar traveling to teach English in Ukraine, Browne’s exploration of the instrument took her to exciting places in that country to play. Carillons are still played there in hopes for peace and an end to the war.

Click the image to listen on YouTube:

Smiling woman in patterned shirt facing camera. Carillon bells and smiling head shoulders of a second woman. Text: Featuring Carillonist, Simone Browne. Hosted by Rachel Medanic.

Watch Simone play the carillon here!

woman in a hat and coat looking up at a carillon bell

About Simone Browne

Originally from Tucson, AZ, Simone Browne is a San Francisco Bay Area resident. As a child she loved music and played cello for 11 years. Simone fell in love with the carillon became a member of the University of Chicago Guild of Carillonneurs, studying carillon with Joey Brink in 2015. After graduating in 2019, then spent a year living in Chernivtsi, Ukraine as a Fulbright scholar, teaching English and visiting Ukrainian carillons.

Supported by the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), she studied with Eddy Mariën, Koen Van Assche, Tom Van Peer, and Dina Verheyden at the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium from 2020-2022. After graduating “with great distinction” in June 2021, she remained at the Carillon School for an additional post-graduation specialization year and focused on arranging and performing music composed by women.

Simone is now studying law as a UC Berkeley Law Class of 2026. She enjoys researching carillon culture and learning languages in her spare time. She has performed as a carillonist in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Lithuania, Denmark, the US, and Ukraine.

To listen to this episode as a podcast, search for Agile Vocalist anywhere you get your podcasts.

orange graphic that reads Liner Notes

Carillon Sounds in this Episode

  • “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica
  • “What a Moonlit Night,” Ukrainian folk song by Mykola Lysenko, arranged by Simone Browne

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Episode Transcript:  Coming Soon!


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