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Ring my bell: Harvard students learn craft the Russian way

Harvard University in the U.S. is returning a set of precious church bells to Russia – decades after they were sold for scrap by the USSR. In exchange, a group of Harvard students were given the chance to visit Moscow to learn the ancient art o

The time for theory is over and four young campanologists have at last been given the chance to ring some bells.

Usually, it takes about five years to train a Russian bell ringer.

The teachers are the most famous bell players in the country and the American students will get the chance to play on the famous bells of Moscow’s St Daniel's monastery, the oldest in the city.

With their rich and somewhat jagged sound, Russian bells are a fundamental part of the Orthodox church identity.

Although religion remains marginal in the lives of most Russians, the art and practice of campanology, or bell ringing, has remained strong and continues to grow.

Father Roman, a bell ringer at St Daniel's, says Russian art is “irrational”, very “unlike that in the West”.

“I am not sure westerners can even understand it. To them Russian bell chimes can seem detuned, unharmonious, but they have a beauty. And they are unique,” Father Roman says.

And this is a small success story for both sides.