(This article by By JOSH LARSEN, Naperville Sun, originally appeared on June 18, 2010 at NaperSun.com.)
One way you could tell 145 carillonneurs had converged on Naperville this week was that the Millennium Carillon itself was a lot busier than usual.
As part of the 68th Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA), held Sunday through Thursday, crowds gathered for a series of recitals on Rotary Hill.
Wednesday night found friends Jeanne Rodenhauser, Beverly Ainsworth and Camille Balla listening to melodies of Beethoven and Chopin drift from the bells as the sun went down.
"It's a beautiful evening," said Balla, of Lisle. "I checked the humidity and everything."
The weather didn't cooperate for all of the congress, but that hadn't dampened the enthusiasm of the guild members who were in attendance Wednesday night. Carl Zimmerman, a 49-year guild member who hails from St. Louis, said Naperville had earned its status as a carillon city.
"You have a very fine setting for a very fine instrument," he said. "What makes it special is not only the bells but the design. The tapering of the corners at the top allows the sound to go up. That means you can hear the bells more clearly."
Dennis Curry, president of the GCNA, agreed.
"What is significant about Naperville that I've never seen anywhere else is the community support and pride and ownership," he said. "The facilities are top notch. They didn't scrimp on anything. They did it right."
All of this is music to the ears of Chuck Seidel, a driving force behind the creation of the Millennium Carillon 10 years ago and a current member of the board of directors.
"It certainly marks it as a world-class carillon," he said of the congress, which was being held in Naperville for the first time. "People came from as far away as Australia to be a part of this."
Along with the recitals, the congress featured workshops, lectures and a banquet. Each year, carillonneurs seeking guild certification can perform an examination recital as part of the event.
In recognition of his work in bringing the carillon to Naperville, the GCNA gave Seidel an honorary lifetime membership. Naperville city carillonneur Tim Sleep and assistant city carillonneur Sue Bergren were elected to the board of directors during the congress.
"It was like three home runs," Seidel said.
On Wednesday, Bergren performed a rare recital featuring additional instruments. Her daughter Maggie accompanied her on percussion for a piece that had been commissioned for the congress.
Sleep, who performed Sunday as part of the Hosts Recital, said "it's good to be leading" as a member of the board.
"Naperville is looking real good," he said. "People were just wowed."
Aside from having "a lot of people staying in hotels and eating in restaurants," Seidel noted that the congress also marks an important stage in the life of the Millennium Carillon.
"There have been high points and low points," he said. "To receive this kind of recognition from the international community, that they want us to host this event, it feels like: 'I guess we made it.'"