Return to Chamber Music
Return to Works

Crescat Scientia; Vita Excolatur (2021)

For carillon

Composed for the inauguration ceremony of President Paul Alivisotos at the University of Chicago.
First performance on Friday, 29 October 2021 by Joey Brink, Joseph Min, Emily Kim, and João Francisco Shida at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
Duration: 4'30"

4 players (8 hands and 2 feet) (with many additional players joining in as composition accumulates) 72 bells, F-compass.

Live unedited world-premiere performance by Joey Brink, Joseph Min, Emily Kim, and João Francisco Shida with 7 assistants for the penultimate chord


Live world-premiere performance on October 29, 2021 by Joey Brink, Joseph Min, Emily Kim, and João Francisco Shida with 7 assistants for the penultimate chord.


LIVE Inside the Bell Tower’s Carillon Playing Chamber


In honor of President Paul Alivisatos, the title of this four-minute and thirty second greeting for carillon comes from the University’s coat of arms which bears a phoenix emerging from the flames with Latin motto: “Crescat Scientia; Vita Excolatur:” “Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.” The penultimate, culminating sound of the composition is a unique, dramatic, resounding, optimistic, and symbolic chord comprised of all 72 bells of our carillon rung simultaneously. With their resonance rippling outward into the air, the swinging bells gradually diminish, fading into silence.


Crescat Scientia; Vita Excolatur (2021)     Augusta Read Thomas (1964)
For 8 hands and 2 feet playing Carillon

Selected Reviews

Bernard Hughes, The Arts Desk, London, November 5, 2022 "Crescat Scientia: Vita Excolatur, put me in mind of Jonathan Harvey – the title is surely a nod to his Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco – but where he explores bells through electronic manipulation, Read Thomas uses only live sounds, a carillon of 72 bells building, through gradual accumulation, to a 72-note chord. It’s a striking opening to the album – but hearing bells on record can never quite match having the vibrations go right through you in the flesh."

M.L. Rantala, Classical Music Critic, Hyde Park Herald, April 19, 2022 The bells toll for thee: New music by Augusta Read Thomas
"Augusta Read Thomas’ contributions to music are extensive, with one of her most recent successes being the creation of the Grossman Ensemble. This group of professional musicians holds regular concerts of world premieres that are specifically commissioned for the Grossman Ensemble.
Earlier Nimbus Records released this month a new CD of Thomas’s work. “Bell Illuminations” is described by Nimbus as the composer’s “first album to be centerd around this longstanding preoccupation” with bells.
U. of C. fans will take delight in a piece written for the university’s carillon, the world’s second largest musical instrument. (The largest being a carillon in New York City.) The title is even U. of C.-related, as it is a play on the institution’s Latin motto. “Crescat Scientia; Vita Excolatur” is described as “for carillon of 72 bells, four players—eight hands and two feet.” It is performed by University of Chicago carillonneur Joey Brink along with Joseph Min, Emily Kim, and Joao Francisco Shida.
The carillon is an interesting musical instrument for many reasons, but for listeners it is the bell overtones which give the music a very different feel from the sound of strings, for example. I have often struggled to appreciate carillon music precisely because the overtones tend to make the music sound strangely out of tune. Yet Thomas has created a spirited work that immediately charmed me. There are treble bells offering a kind of insistent greeting that gather you in and then a celebration commences. This work has all the joy and excitement of a simple, happy afternoon drenched in sun and surrounded by family. It is a wonderful contribution to the music of the elusive carillon."


Paul Alivisatos

Joey Brink. Photo Credit: Erielle Bakkum

The final chord: All 72 bells simultaneously rung. photo credit: Anne Ryan

To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.