North American Carillon School
North American Carillon School

Affiliate of the
Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn", Mechelen, Belgium
Follow Us On:
We Don't Just Teach You How to Play. 

We Create Carillonists/Carillonneurs!!

Well-equipped to serve the various carillons in North America.


The Goal of the North American Carillon School is to provide Structured and Organized Carillon Education to a wide variety of musicians who desire to begin, improve or polish their carillon-playing skills. In addition we require those students wishing to obtain the NACS proficiency certificate or the NACS Performance Diploma to successfully finish the various courses needed to properly serve the various carillon employers within North America.

Flexibility is the motto of the school. Considering the greater travel distances within the North America, the NACS will tailor its courses towards the specific schedules and needs of each individual student. Education at the student's home carillon is also an option.

The NACS will also utilize Skype and other electronic media for teaching theory courses and to perform progress checks when a student is unable to attend "live" classes.

The North American Carillon School has acquired the status of affiliate and American representative of the Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn" in Mechelen, Belgium.

The Faculty
The Faculty and Board of Directors of the NACS consists of the three initiators of the NACS.

Frank DellaPenna
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
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.
Carlo van Ulft

Carlo van Ulft was appointed Director/Carillonist of the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Springfield, Illinois, in July, 2015. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Van Ulft served for 18 years as Director/Carillonist of the Centralia Carillon in Centralia, Illinois. During his tenure in Centralia, he was able to establish the instrument as one of the preeminent carillons in the world. In 2010, Carlo released “Towering Artistry” CD and in 2015 (in collaboration with other financial backers), he helped produce the professionally filmed DVD, “Meet the Carillon."

Mr. van Ulft, a native of The Netherlands, holds European Masters Level degrees in organ performance, carillon performance and theatre organ performance. He served on the faculty of the Royal Carillon School, Jef Denyn” in Mechelen, Belgium from 1984-1997 and also held position as Municipal Carillonist in four cities in The Netherlands prior to moving to the United States. A frequent guest recitalist, Carlo has played at all major carillon festivals and carillon summer series in North America and Europe. He has been an invited guest player at several GCNA (Guild of Carillonneurs of North America) congresses and was guest recitalist at WCF (World Carillon Federation) congresses in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and Annecy (France). As adjudicator, Carlo has judged both nationally and internationally, most recently at the Queen Fabiola Competition in Belgium in 2014.

Carlo served on the Board of Directors of the GCNA from 2005-2011 and currently serves on several GCNA sub-committees. He was awarded the Medal of Honor of University of California (Berkeley) in 1993 for “distinguished service to the carillon.” In 2014, Carlo authored the book, “Arranging for the Carillon,” and as an arranger, he has had many of his works published and in widespread circulation. A number of his original compositions have also been published.

Recognizing the need for an independent carillon institute to serve carillonists of all ages and skill levels, and with an interest in a variety of musical styles, Carlo founded the North American Carillon School in 2012.

During the academic year, Carlo plays a weekly recital and teaches the art of carillon playing at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. As organist, he serves the congregation of St. John's Lutheran Church in Springfield, Illinois.