The Westminster chimes

Babel Clarion at River Bells Music Festival



Babel Clarion, for chorus and carillon, was premiered at the River Bells Music Festival in Minneapolis on May 4, 2013. Based on the composition Babel Lament, from the Five Books Choral Suite, Babel Clarion emanated from the Westminster Chimes speakers in the tower at First Congregational Church throughout the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood of Minneapolis. The composition was commissioned by Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association, with funding from the University of Minnesota Good Neighbor Fund.

The chorus was recorded by The First Readings Project –  J. David Moore, conductor. Here is a link to an audio recording of Babel Clarion.



The following is a link to view a video version that includes a glimpse into the festival. It contains the full audio track, with some digital illustrations by artist Candy Kuehn, and a few photographs from the street during the festival as participants listened to the carillon.

The text is derived from the Tower of Babel story, a tale that appears in various forms in the history of several cultures. This interpretation is a call to join forces in unity to build something together. The story provides a context to reflect upon our history – our past attempts to unify with common purpose to accomplish something for the community – and to consider the implications of ignoring the call, or of failing in the effort. The layers of the text tell the story:

  • Come – make bricks. Build a city, a tower in the sky. Make a name, or scatter over the earth.
  • One language. One purpose. Nothing out of our reach.
  • Limit our reach. Confound our speech. Scatter over the earth.

It is about coming together, moving beyond our differences, and setting on a unified path towards the common good. It is about the balance between pursuing our individual interests, and serving broad community goals. It is also about hubris, and allowing our differences to define us – our different languages, cultures, interests and purposes.

Babel Clarion provides an opportunity to step outside of our normal linear path and our divergent individual states of being, and serves as a catalyst to re-engage with our sense of community – our mutual well-being, and our sense of communal purpose.

Go here for an artist statement that provides deeper insight into the concept underlying the work.


This project was made possible through a grant from the University of Minnesota Good Neighbor Fund and the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association.

This project was made possible in part with the support of
Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council,
an initiative of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.