North American Carillon School
North American Carillon School

Affiliate of the
Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn", Mechelen, Belgium
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The Faculty of the NACS momentarily consist of three renowned American Carillonists. Besides teaching carillon performance at their own location, each carillonist will bring his own specific expertise to the school. DellaPenna will teach Carillon Marketing and Promotion. The NACS just published his course book concerning this subject matter. Gouwens will teach Composition, Improvisation and Campanology/Carillon History. His course book on Campanology, specifically written for the NACS courses, is expected to hit the market in May 2013.  Van Ulft will be teaching Arranging for Carillon and Application of Popular Music to Carillon. Students who desire to be prepared for a diploma from the Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn"  are required (by that institution)  to take performance from Van Ulft.

On January 1, 2013, a team of qualified carillon teachers from around the USA joined us to make carillon education even more accessible. For their information and locations, please click on "Branch Locations" in the side bar.
Carlo van Ulft, Central Midwest Region
Carlo van Ulft was appointed to the position of Director/Carillonist of the Centralia Carillon (Illinois) in 1997. Besides playing three weekly concerts, he is responsible for development of the instrument and promoting the carillon through scheduled tours and maintaining media attention.  In 2010, he released the Centralia Carillon's first CD, “Towering Artistry.
Mr. van Ulft is a native of The Netherlands and holds European Masters Level degrees in Organ performance, Carillon performance and Theatre Organ performance.  From 1984-1997, he served on the faculty of the Royal Carillon School “Jef Denyn” in Mechelen, Belgium.  Prior to his appointment in Centralia, Carlo held the position of Municipal Carillonist of four cities in The Netherlands and was organist at St. Martinus Church in Venlo, The Netherlands.

As a carillon guest recitalist, Mr. van Ulft has appeared at all major Carillon Festivals and Carillon Summer Series in North America and Europe.  He has served as guest player at several GCNA (Guild of Carillonneurs of North America) congresses and was a guest recitalist at WCF (World Carillon Federation) congresses in Ann Arbor, MI, and in Annecy, France.  He has served as adjudicator for several prestigious national and international carillon competitions including the Queen Fabiola Competition in Belgium.  Carlo served on the Board of Directors of the GCNA from 2005 through 2011 and currently serves on several GCNA sub-committees.  He received the Medal of Honor of the University of California-Berkeley in 1993 for “distinguished service to the carillon.”  In addition to his recital schedule, Carlo frequently arranges music originally composed for other instruments for use on the carillon.  These arrangements have been published by several publishers of carillon music and are now in widespread circulation.
As organist, Carlo has played guest concerts in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and the United States.  One of his most memorable recent ventures was performing a joint organ/tympani concert with professional tympanist, Paul Schorsch.  Carlo has also accompanied numerous choirs both in The Netherlands and United States.  He currently serves as organist/choir master at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hamel, Illinois.
During the academic year, Carlo plays the carillon and teaches the art of carillon playing at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois.  Recognizing the need for an independent carillon institute which will serve carillonists of all ages and skill levels, and with an interest in a variety of musical styles, he founded the North American Carillon School in 2012.

Frank DellaPenna, Roaming USA
Cast in Bronze was created to bring the haunting beauty of the carillon to more listeners by demonstrating its versatility with other instruments. This objective has been accomplished through live performances with live musicians, recordings, and solo performances accompanied by musical tracks.
The carillon is played by a silent and masked "spirit of the bells" that appears only to breathe life into the instrument for the performance. The "spirit" and creator of Cast in Bronze, Frank DellaPenna, began his studies in Valley Forge, PA, with Frank Pechin Law and is the first American graduate of the French Carillon School located in Tourcoing, France, where he studied with Jacques Lannoy.
Cast in Bronze has been invited to perform for Pope John Paul II, a Presidential Inauguration, Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, for top name recording artists and at numerous music, art, and renaissance festivals throughout the U.S..  The music of Cast in Bronze has been heard on radio and television including a special Christmas Eve performance on the NBC "Today" Show.     
The original carillon of Cast in Bronze consists of 35 bells with a total weight of four tons. It is played by a modified keyboard with the fists and feet. It is the only musical act of its kind in the world, and the only carillon in history solely supported by listeners.  Due to increased demand for Cast in Bronze performances, DellaPenna and his wife, Anne, built another traveling carillon of 35 bells to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Cast in Bronze.  Both instruments are on tour.
DellaPenna has recorded several CD’s, an award winning DVD, and has most recently completed a two hour musical entitled, “The Bells”.  For more information and schedule of performances, please visit:
John Gouwens, Indiana Region

John Gouwens has been Organist and Carillonneur of The Academies (in addition teaching piano students) at the Culver Academies since fall of 1980. He has four CD recordings of the organ and carillon at Culver available at present (with more in the planning stages). He also plays and teaches carillon on an adjunct basis at Ball State University and Indiana University.
Gouwens is noted for his improvisation skills, on the organ and on the carillon, and has given presentations for several chapters of the American Guild of Organists and for annual congresses of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America on this subject. He also won a carillon improvisation contest at the 1983 GCNA congress, the first such competition held by that organization. In 2004, he hosted the annual congress of the GCNA at Culver, having done so also in 1985.
He is active as a composer, primarily for carillon, with works published by the Royal Carillon School Jef Denyn in Mechelen, American Carillon Music Editions, and The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. He has some vocal compositions to his credit also. In 2010, he was commissioned by the Lexington, Kentucky chapter to compose a work in memory of their colleague - a distinguished carillonneur and composer - John Courter. Gouwens premiered the resulting work, "Suite No. 3" for carillon, at the Lexington Regional AGO convention, on the carillon at Berea College, where Courter served with distinction until his untimely death.
Mr. Gouwens has many competition awards to his credit in organ, carillon, and composition, and is widely-travelled as a recitalist on both organ and carillon. He will make his seventh European recital tour in the summer of 2012.
Gouwens studied organ and carillon at Indiana University (Bloomington), the University of Michigan, and the University of Kansas, holding degrees in organ performance from the latter two schools. He was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His instructors included Richard Carlson, Clyde Holloway, Robert Clark, and the late Robert Glasgow in organ, and Albert Gerken in carillon.
He is very active in the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, where he serves as chairman of the Johan Franco Composition Committee (which commissions new music for carillon and organizes composition competitions). He also serves on the Music Publications Committee and on the Student Examinations Committee. He is very active as an editor and arranger of music for GCNA publications, as well as a contributing composer. He has performed at numerous congresses of the GCNA, as well as at several carillon festivals and a congress of the World Carillon Federation.
In 2003, Mr. Gouwens completed a method book (revised and expanded in 2010) for teaching beginning students on the carillon. The book, "Playing the Carillon: An Introductory Method," is the first American carillon method book, and is to date the only one published in the US. It is published by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.