LEUVEN - Bells have been associated with the idea of peace for centuries. On November 11, 1918, all the bells of Belgium, France and England rang to celebrate the regained peace after WWI. On November 11, 2018 (Armistice Day) the truce of 100 years ago was commemorated. On that day, the new carillon in the Park Abbey in Leuven once again rung out this peace message.

Everyone was welcome to come and listen to the very first carillon concerts at 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00 hours. For the inauguration, the renowned Flemish carillonneur and composer Geert D'hollander wrote the 'Sacrale Suite', a triptych on Gregorian themes. This work is offered to all carillonneurs in the hope that many of them will also perform it on their 'own' carillon.

The Norbertine Abbey of Park is one of the best preserved abbeys in Western Europe. Restoration work has been going on for some years at this ancient complex. From 1730, in the west tower of the abbey church, hung a carillon of 40 bells that was cast by the Amsterdam city bell foundry of Claes Noorden and Jan Albert de Grave. This instrument was moved to the Sint-Pieterskerk in Leuven in the 19th century, but was completely lost during the Fire of Leuven on 25 August 1914. On that day not only many monuments, houses and works of art went up in flames, but more than 240 civilians were killed. In 2014, the city archivist of the German city of Neuss came to the shocking discovery that reservists from his city were partly responsible for this tragic event.

The new carillon has 40 bells that were cast by Royal Eijsbouts. The required amount of over 500,000 euros has been raised by more than 300 people and companies from Belgium and abroad. The two largest bells were donated by the city of Leuven and the city of Neuss. The total weight of bronze used for the bells is 10.6 tons. The bells are replicas of the bells that were destroyed by German troops during WWI. Thanks to the preserved annotations made in 1880 by the Leuven bell founder Constant Sergeys, we know not only the inscriptions and weights, but also the profile of these bells.

The new instrument will become part of the international network of War Memorial and Peace Carillons that were installed worldwide after World War I and World War II.

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