ALBANY, N.Y. - For the first time in more than half a century, a newly restored bell chimer will be played on the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception's bells' 150th anniversary.
November 8th marks exactly 150 years since the bells of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, at the corner of Eagle Street and Madison Avenue in Albany, were first heard. This Saturday will be the first time in more than 50 years the original chime stand or clavier will be used to play, by hand, those famous bells.
Several area chimers will be high up in the north spire, taking turns at playing Advent and seasonal tunes on the Cathedral's newly-restored clavier. As part of the celebration and following tradition, the 10 Cathedral bells will be blessed by Rev. William Pape, rector of the Cathedral.
Father Pape will also bless as many as 100 personal or family bells brought to the event by Cathedral parishioners and all others invited to attend.
Father Pape said the Cathedral bells were first blessed in November of 1862. It then took three weeks to raise all 10 bells up into the spire. They first were rung on Dec. 8 of that same year.
The Cathedral's bells, made by the Andrew Meneely Bell Foundry of Watervliet, will be rung manually from the original 19th century chime stand located on the fourth floor of the Cathedral's north tower.
Returning the clavier to its original playing condition during the past year or so has been at the hands of Joseph Connors - for the most part - self-taught at this task.
The 76-year old noted local chimer grew up in Troy and Averill Park and learned his chiming skills at his father's side. Joseph Connors' father rang the bells at St. Patrick's in Troy for many years. Connors, now living in Northville, later took over the job at St. Patrick's once he had restored that clavier.
Assisting Connors as he repaired the Cathedral clavier is another chimer Gayle Walrath, also of Northville. Both of them and several others will demonstrate their skills and artistry during Saturday's celebration.