About Woodstock Chimes

The World's Favorite Windchime

Woodstock Chimes are the original musically-tuned, high-quality windchime that people ask for by name. When listening to a Woodstock Chime, you hear a perfectly tuned musical instrument, played by the wind.

Since 1979, GRAMMY award-winning musician and instrument designer Garry Kvistad has tuned Woodstock Chimes based on famous melodies and scales heard around the world. Each chime has its own "voice" that contributes to a mood or atmosphere - listen to find the one that speaks to you.

Garry Kvistad - The Talent Behind the Design and Tuning of All Woodstock Chimes

Garry studied music, art and physics in the pursuit of building musical instruments. In the early 70s he began what would become Woodstock Chimes in, of all places, an Illinois landfill. Garry was teaching at Northern Illinois University. As a benefit of the job he could take courses, so Garry enrolled in one that taught techniques for making musical instruments. Using the tubes from discarded lawn chairs, Garry crafted a metallophone, a xylophone-like instrument made with metal instead of wood. Being an ecologically-minded recent college graduate on a tight budget, Garry found the materials for his metallophone at the local landfill - it was made from the aluminum tubes of discarded lawn chairs. Garry's metallophone experiment was so successful that he had the idea to cut and tune lawn chair tubes to create windchimes, and Woodstock Chimes was born!

In addition to his work at Woodstock Chimes, Garry is also a professional musician. He has been performing and recording with the ensemble Steve Reich and Musicians since 1980 and is one of 18 musicians to win a GRAMMY award for the 1998 recording of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. In 2002 Garry joined NEXUS, the internationally-renown, Canadian-based chamber music ensemble. Considered one of, if not the, premier percussion ensembles in the world today, The New York Times called NEXUS "the high priests of the percussion world."

Garry and his wife, Diane, are active in the Woodstock community. Through their charitable foundation, The Woodstock Chimes Fund, they assist art and humanitarian efforts in the Hudson Valley. In addition to serving on several boards, Garry recently joined the Bard College Conservatory of Music faculty as an advisor to their percussion program.

A Brief Company History

1979 - The First Factory
Woodstock Chimes were initially made in a basement in Cincinnati. When the Kvistad's moved to the Hudson Valley (on July 4, 1979), Woodstock got its first "factory" - a barn in West Hurley, NY. Garry was equally at home with a hammer as with a tuning fork or drum stick, which was good, as the barn needed a lot of help to convert it into a fully useable space. Because the delicate process of finishing needed a dust-free environment, for the first year or two, this was done at the Kvistad's kitchen table. In 1985 a proper factory was built on the property and the business relocated.

1980 - Garry brings Woodstock Chimes to NPR and The Today Show
Garry was interviewed by Susan Stamberg on NPR's All Things Considered, resulting in responses from hundreds of listeners. Shortly thereafter, Garry heard that NBC's Gene Shalit gave Woodstock Chimes as gifts and sent him one in appreciation. As a result, Garry was asked to appear on The Today Show and was interviewed by former NBC News Correspondent Nancy Foreman.

1986 - The Woodstock Chimes Fund is Established
Garry and Diane Kvistad created The Woodstock Chimes Fund, a non-profit foundation, to support the Arts and Food and Shelter Programs. They believe a community can be judged by how it values the Arts and the way in which its members respond to those in need. Further, they believe they have a responsibility as a corporate citizen to give back to the community which has helped make their success possible.

1987 - Woodstock Chimes appears in The Wall Street Journal
Garry made the pages of The Wall Street Journal with his first major commission, a giant chime for the County Courthouse in Montgomery, AL. This massive six and a half foot Woodstock Chime sported a bright red windcatcher and hung from a 21-foot steel frame that was erected on the grounds between two buildings. It takes a good breeze to make the chimes ring, but that's all part of the charm. Windchimes aren't mechanical, they play at the whim of nature.

1990 - Carnegie Hall Turns 100
The late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu was commissioned to compose a concerto for the premier percussion ensemble NEXUS and the Boston Symphony Orchestra as part of Carnegie Hall's centennial celebration. Takemitsu, in turn, commissioned Garry to create two custom sets of Woodstock Chimes to be used in the piece named From Me Flows What You Call Time. The chimes were suspended above the audience and activated by color streamers that lead to the performers on stage. Garry became a member of NEXUS in 2002 and they continue to perform this work around the world.

2003 - Woodstock Chimes Appears in The Wall Street Journal (again!)
In June of 2003 The Wall Street Journal did a comparison of five different windchimes. The music made by their Chimes of Bach was preferred because the notes were well spaced, giving it a more pleasant sound than the other chimes. To quote the Journal's independent music expert, "[Woodstock Chimes' Chimes of Bach] sounded sweet, so for their simple design, price and ease on the ears, we named them our Best Value and Best Overall."

2010 - ICON Award
In 2010, Garry won the inaugural ICON Award, given by AmericasMart Atlanta and the Gift and Home Trade Association. The award celebrates global innovation, extraordinary manufacturing and sales and retail achievement. Garry won by a unanimous consensus of the judges for being an individual who demonstrates "consistent exemplary career achievements."

2009, 2011 - Drum Boogie Festival
Produced by The Woodstock Chimes Fund with Garry as Executive Director, the Drum Boogie Festival was a daylong musical event that featured over a dozen music and dance performers. Past performers have included big names such as Jazz great Jack DeJohnette as well as local talent, including students from the Kingston, NY area.

Product Timeline

1979 - The First Woodstock Chime
Garry wondered if he could create a musical instrument that more people, non-musicians, could utilize. His inspiration came from the scale of Olympos, a 7th century BC Greek pentatonic scale that he found fascinating. You can't play the scale's ancient notes on a modern piano, so Garry came up with the idea of cutting and tuning the lawn chair tubes to the exact frequency of the scale and created a windchime from the tubes. It was the perfect instrument that the wind could play randomly - no formal musical training required! Garry's wife, Diane, allowed him to display his windchime in her booth at the Cincinnati Craft Fair. It immediately sparked an interest among attendees, and the first Chimes of Olympos was sold that day.

1986 - The Award-Winning Chimalong is Introduced
In the early 1980s, when his daughters were young, Garry looked for good children's instruments for them to play with. He wasn't able to find any, so he decided to make one. It was a logical connection to use the Woodstock Chime tubes and create a xylophone-like instrument. This clever metallophone (metal xylophone) was the start of what has become the Woodstock Music Collection. The Chimalong helps teach children to read music, inspires improvisation in kids of all ages and remains one of their best-selling items.

1995 - Woodstock Chimes Adds Bells to the Mix
Still popular today, the Woodstock Garden Bells have nine brass bells that blossom up from a stone base, creating a kinetic sculpture that can be played by hand, by birds or by the wind. Their selection of bells has grown greatly and now includes a wide variety, including the Woodstock Water Bell Fountain, which combines the peaceful sound of water with softly chiming bells, Woodstock Temple Bells, a classic design that was inspired by ancient Chinese bells, and Heroic Windbells, which have been acoustically designed to sound like distant harbor bells.

2002 - The Emperor Gong - A Best Seller From Day One
Woodstock Chimes first foray into gongs was with an Asian-inspired, contemporary design called the Emperor Gong. Always one of their best-selling items, the Emperor Gong has sweeping lines that evoke the ancient art of calligraphy. The look is stylish and sophisticated, and the clever design allows it to be played by hand or by the wind. Woodstock has a range of gongs available. Each one is hand-hammered by master gong makers using the same methods and materials that have gone into crafting gongs for thousands of years, so each one delivers a rich, authentic sound.

2003 - Saint Olaf College Commission
When the President of Saint Olaf College in Northfield, MN decided to build a memorial to former students, Woodstock Chimes came to mind. The Memorial Chime Tower, a Scandinavian-style wooden tower, was built by members of the Saint Olaf community to commemorate the lives of students who died while enrolled at the college. This massive collection of Woodstock Windsinger Chimes are tuned to notes from the hymn Beautiful Savior, the signature song of the Saint Olaf Choir. On windy days the sound of the chimes can be heard almost everywhere on campus. You can hear them as well on the Saint Olaf website; just search for "chimes."

2003 - Chimalong Wins the Prestigious Parent's Choice Top 25 Toys of 25 Years Award
Established in 1978, Parent's Choice is a nonprofit guide to quality children's media and toys. Their purpose is to recommend products that help kids grow "imaginatively, physically, morally and mentally. Parent's Choice Award winners must challenge, inspire and entertain, igniting imagination, stimulating creativity and imparting a body of knowledge, all while being fun. The Top 25 of 25 Years do that and more. According to Parent's Choice President Claire Green, "The appeal of these products has endured changing fads and passing fancies. They strike a wonderful balance between learning and play."

2008 - Woodstock Chimes Acquires Asli Arts
Woodstock Chimes expanded their product line through the purchase of Asli Arts, Inc., makers of high quality, great sounding bamboo and capiz shell windchimes. The collection consists of chimes made in Bali and Vietnam. The word asli means traditional in Indonesian, but these windchimes are a wonderful mix of traditional and contemporary designs that add to the music of Woodstock Chimes.

2011 - Woodstock Rainbow Makers Add Sparkle to the Line
Made with genuine Austrian crystals, Woodstock Rainbow Makers do for light what their chimes do for sound. There are several designs to choose from, including Guardian Angels in colors that match each month's birthstone, Crystal Fantasies with laser-cut charms in animal and mythical shapes, and Crystal Cascades with long clusters of crystals finished with a clear crystal drop.

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