Bells are ringing at Bok Tower Concerts: At daily recitals and holiday events, a carillonneur performs in the stone and marble landmark in central Florida.

Travel Q&A

November 09, 1997|By Jean Allen | Jean Allen,SUN-SENTINEL, SOUTH FLORIDA

Many years ago, our family enjoyed a visit to Bok Tower in central Florida. I have never forgotten how beautiful the tower and surrounding grounds are. I would like to visit again, preferably at a time when there are a lot of carillon concerts. I'll welcome any help.

Bok Tower is a beauty, 205 feet of coquina stone and pink marble. The carillon has 57 bronze bells weighing from 17 pounds to an 11-ton whopper. The tower sits at the summit of the Florida peninsula's tallest hill, Iron Mountain, elevation 298 feet.

A slide show at the visitor's center shows carillonneur Milford Myhre, a handsome 65-year-old, as he enters the tower and ascends to the top by a spiral stairway or vintage 1929 elevator. The tower was not built for visitors, so Myhre is alone in his aerie.

Every day, a one-song recording is played every half-hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a live 45-minute concert begins at 3 p.m.

Programs during the year include moonlight recitals, Easter sunrise services and Christmas holiday events. The year's biggest event is the annual Carillon Festival every February, when many guest musicians participate.

The 128 acres of gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park, are a delight. A self-guided tour leads visitors to displays of exotic plants, ponds and trees, inhabited by swans, ducks, foxes, the occasional bobcat and 126 species of wild birds.

The tower, named for its builder, Dutch-born editor and publisher Edward Bok, is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The grounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; entry is $4 for adults, $1 for children ages 5 to 12. For a calendar of events or other information, write Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Fla. 33859-3810, phone 813-676-9412. The property is just off U.S. 27.

The Black Hills Passion Play's winter performances, in an outdoor amphitheater in Lake Wales not far from the Bok Tower Gardens, run annually from mid-February to mid-April, the dates coinciding with the Bok carillon festival. For Passion Play ticket information, call 800-622-8383.

Bok Tower is in Polk County, which offers dozens of lakes, trees draped with Spanish moss and the state's oldest theme park, Cypress Gardens. For a free vacation guide, call 800-828-POLK.

I have heard for years about the Barnes Foundation, an art museum near Philadelphia, and although I've been in that area several times, I was never able to get information about opening times, tickets or even the place's exact location. I'll be in Philadelphia later this year, and I wonder if the museum will be accessible.

The Barnes is relatively easy to visit and is open four days a week. You need no reservation unless you're with a group.

I decided to go when I was in Philadelphia to see the Cezanne exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That museum had assembled about 100 Cezannes from all over the world, but the little Barnes Foundation a few miles away has 69 Cezannes of its own on permanent display. That's in addition to the 180 Renoirs, 60 Matisses and hundreds of assorted works by Picasso, Seurat, Modigliani, Rousseau, Monet, Manet, Degas and others.

The works were collected by Albert Coombs Barnes, a medical doctor who made his fortune in pharmaceuticals. He created the foundation in 1922 and built the gallery in a 13-acre arboretum in the suburb of Merion, Pa.

The museum is open Fridays through Sundays from 9: 30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays 12: 30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Phone 610-667-0290.

The museum/arboretum is at 300 N. Latch's Lane, Merion, Pa., 19066, off U.S. 1 west of downtown Philadelphia. It's hard to find, so get directions from your hotel or anyone who knows the way.

Pub Date: 11/09/97

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