Tower of the parish of St. Mary  

DETROIT - St. Mary's of Redford Parish is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the Detroit area, having been founded in 1843. The present church building and tower is the third for the parish, designed by the noted ecclesiastical architect Ralph Adams Cram and built in 1927. The carillon project was initiated by parishioner and director of music Patrick Macoska around 1997, after having studied carillon for several years with Margo Halsted and realizing the potential of placing a carillon in this tower, which until that time had only a single swinging bell cast by McShane in 1882.

Patrick Macoska   __________________________________________

Approval was obtained from the Archdiocese and funds were raised. Paccard was selected to provide the carillon. It is interesting to note that many of the founding families of the parish came from the area of France near Annecy, where the Paccard bell-foundry is located.

The initial plan called for a four octave instrument (48 bells) with a bourdon of f1. When the founding of bells was underway, additional funds were raised, making it possible to add three large bells so that the bourdon would be a d1 of approximately 3,300 lbs (1,497 kg). These were added to the 48 already cast, for a total of 51, and a keyboard range of c to d# with the lowest semitone omitted. This range is a bit unusual, but not without precedent (the carillon at Culver Academy has an identical range). The keyboard is based on the 'Keyboard 2000' standard as designed by Richard Strauss. Three of the bells (d1, f#1, and a1) are also swinging bells.

The carillon was installed during August and September of 2002. Cyril Paccard supervised and was assisted by two Verdin employees and carillonneur Macoska himself. The parishoners took great interest in the project, visiting the belltower often, asking many questions, and participating in a formal blessing ceremony before the bells were hoisted in place. The swinging bells were even rung several times for weddings before the carillon was complete by manually turning the wheels in the bellchamber (not something for the faint of heart!).

The dedication recital was performed on October 12, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the church building. The carillon is played each Saturday and Sunday following Mass. The automatic play system (using pneumatic devices that depress the batons of the keyboard) plays briefly on weekdays at noon and 6 p.m. An annual recital series was started in 2003 and has proven quite popular with parishioners and area residents. Recitalists visiting Michigan from around the world perform on Saturday afternoons during July.

In the fall of 2003, Macoska personally built a practice keyboard which is now located in the second floor of the tower.