Tower Music is a free community event, open to the public.

Tower Music is cherished tradition at the Bach Festival that began in 1936 with the Heralding Trombones, led for 25 years by Monterey grocer Chandler Stewart and then his son Gordon Stewart. Chandler had been a friend of Festival founders Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous – all were Bach fans. The trombone quartet opened every Festival in the early days.

In addition to playing from the balcony window of the Sunset Auditorium, they also played from the bell tower at the Carmel Mission, thus earning the name, “Tower Music.” Performing and “sounding the alarm” from towers and balconies is a centuries-old tradition, dating to the Middle Ages, utilizing ancient trumpets, trombones, horns, and drums. The Stewart family continued to perform Tower Music well into the 60s with the next generation of Stewart offspring until the brass section of the orchestra was asked to carry on the tradition in the 1970s, as it does today.


Tower Music 2023

Saturday, July 15 & 22 – The Beginning Of The End (Fanfares, Openings, Preludes)

Claudio Monteverdi               Toccata & Interludes from Orfeo

Marc-Antoine Charpentier   Te Deum Prelude

Johann Sebastian Bach        Contrapunctus 1

Joseph Turrin                           Fanfare for Five

Eddy Debons                           Festive Intrada


Monday, July 17 & 24 – Rebirth (Music from the mid to late Renaissance)

Hans Leo Hassler                    Sacri Concentus XXI  Alleluia

Gioseffo Guami                       Canzon 19

Andrea Gabrieli                       Ricercar del Sesto Tuono

Costanzo Antegnati               Canzon 9

Giovanni Gabrieli                    Canzon prima a 5


Wednesday, July 19 & 26 – In the Middle Baroque

Daniel Speer                            Sonata 29

Johann Pezel                           Sonata 22

Johann Pezel                           Sonata 24

Johann Pezel                           Sonata 28


Friday, July 21 & 28 – The End is but The Beginning (Finales, Postludes, End Music)

Barbara Harbach                    Fanfare Ritmico

Victor Ewald                            Symphony No. 1 Finale

Franz Biebl                               Ave Maria

Ron Goodwin                          Where Eagles Dare



Tower Music is a very old tradition at the Carmel Bach Festival with its roots in ancient times. From the 14th through 17th centuries, there existed (mostly in Germany), thuermer (tower-men), who resided in specially constructed towers fitted high in church steeples or castles. They sounded the hour, signaled the arrival of royalty and marauding armies, and sounded the alarm in case of fire. In addition, they played a sacred song at early dawn and a secular song mid-day on feast days. These musicians acquired more duties over the centuries which included performing processional music, dance music, and accompaniments for church chorales. After some time, their tower duties disappeared, and the municipal musicians became more like community bands with the designation stadtpfeiferei or stadtmusicus. Perhaps the most famous stadtfeifer was Johan Pezel, whose music will be performed on Wednesday evenings.


Early in the Carmel Bach Festival, a quartet of trombones (generations of the Stewart family and friends) re-enacted this tradition of tower music for over 3-4 decades, playing Bach Chorales among other music. Since the late 1970s, Tower Music at the Carmel Bach Festival has been performed by the brass section of the orchestra and the repertoire greatly expanded to include music from the early Renaissance to present day.

The titles of Tower Music are in keeping, more or less, with the festival theme of new beginnings, with a riff here and there. Enjoy and come back!

Tower Music honors a tradition reaching back to antiquity when various brass instruments were used to call or signal attention to events and situations: for better (the arrival of royalty, weddings, pageants, hunts and jousts) or for worse (invading or marauding armies and other serious and life-threatening actions).

The entire brass section of the Festival Orchestra now participates in Tower Music performances and it is still a beloved tradition. Please join us for Tower Music before the Main Concerts. We love hearing from you, speaking with you, and renewing acquaintances and friendships that began and endure with this great Festival!

— Suzanne Mudge, Tower Music Director

Tower Music Personnel:

Leonard Ott, Dominic Favia, and Greg Smith, Trumpets
Alex Camphouse, French horn
Bruce Chrisp, Alto & Tenor Trombone, Tenor Sackbut
Suzanne Mudge, Tenor Trombone, Tenor Sackbut
Wayne Solomon, Bass Trombone, Bass Sackbut
Kevin Neuhoff, Percussion