Charlie St. Cyr – Paul is the man behind the Cast In Bronze Carillon. Some of you may remember the Carillon from the 2019 N.C. State Fair, however it takes on a new look, feel and management under Charlie. In previous years, the bells were played by Cast in Bronze creator, Frank DellaPenna. However, Frank recently announced his retirement from touring with the Carillon and chose none other than Charlie St. Cyr – Paul to carry on the inspiring tradition.
Cast in Bronze was the first musical act in the world to feature the carillon in its show. Although the carillon was first established in Europe in the early 1500’s and has been played in various Town Hall’s and concert venues, it has never been featured as a touring musical act until Frank DellaPenna became inspired to reach the masses with the instruments familiar and haunting sound. “He was brilliant on the bells and knew the instrument front to back,” Charlie said, “that’s why it was, and still is, so intimidating to fill his shoes.”
Charlie and Frank originally met 20 years ago when Charlie auditioned for his show as a drummer at Epcot Walt Disney World in Florida. Charlie grew up playing the drums and has performed worldwide in over 30 countries throughout his career as a musician, music director and recording artist. He has worked with many well-known artists and companies as a music director, including Walt Disney World. “I auditioned for Frank’s show at Epcot not knowing how much it would change both my life and my career as a musical artist,” he said, “however, I ended up playing drums for Frank for 20 years after that both in shows, including Cast in Bronze, and on most of his recordings.” Charlie is currently studying with Frank and attending the North American Carillon School as the 2021 annual scholarship recipient from the Cast In Bronze Society.
When Frank first asked Charlie to take over the bells in 2019-2020, he was very hesitant to follow in the shoes of such a highly skilled and inspiring musician. “Frank made the Cast in Bronze what it is, so to follow in his footsteps carried a huge responsibility because it not only meant carrying on the legacy of the instrument and the show itself, but also the legacy of Frank as the creator and Master Carillonneur,” he said. However, when Frank called Charlie to discuss the matter a second time, Frank gave him a line that he simply couldn’t refuse. “He called and told me, ‘Charlie the bells have chosen you because you truly have what it takes,’ and suddenly I couldn’t refuse the calling of the instrument that rang a chord both in my heart and the hearts of all who hear it,” Charlie said.
Today, Charlie is the only owner and operator of a touring carillon in North America. His current tour, the Cast in Bronze Legacy tour, features everything from well-known show tunes, like Phantom of the Opera and the Harry Potter theme song, to Charlie’s full original orchestral arrangements. In fact, all of the music played over the loud speakers directly before, in the middle of and following the Cast In Bronze show are Charlie’s original songs. “It’s an honor to be able to share my music with people across the world,” he said, “I always try to tell a story with my music and touch people’s hearts with what I do. It’s all about speaking to the soul, not just the aural hearing of a piece.”
Charlie finds inspiration in the beauty of the world around him, the stories of other people and the talents of other musicians. “In my opinion, if you are simply getting up and performing a piece because you’re talented or to get the accolades you are missing the mark entirely,” he said, “you have to believe in the piece and tell a story through it.” In fact, that is one of the reasons that Charlie has not adopted the mask that Frank used to wear in all of his shows. “I want to connect to the audience, look them in the eyes as I’m playing and learn a part of their stories in the process,” he said. It is his personal mission to connect with each audience member at every show he plays during the N.C. State Fair and other festival performances.
The Cast in Bronze Carillon is located in the Flower and Garden show at the N.C. State Fair. Be sure to check out the show, which happens each day at multiple intervals throughout the day. Find him in the daily schedule and be sure to hang around and talk with him after the show!
Although Charlie’s favorite song to play is In Your Eyes, which is a love song, the most challenging song that he plays is Carol of the Bells. “It requires me to play about 3,500 notes in a span of about four minutes,” he said. Depending on which show you attend at the State Fair, you can hear both of these songs as well as some of his other well-known performances from Game of Thrones and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Charlie’s music can be found on YouTube as well as many popular streaming channels, including Spotify and Apple Music. Check it out today and don’t miss his show in the Flower and Garden show at the N.C. State Fair. Keep calm and Carillon!