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2024 GCNA Congress

The 81st Annual Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America will be held at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, from June 5 to 8, 2024.

Attending your first GCNA Congress?

We look forward to welcoming you! Be sure to join us for the complimentary first-timers breakfast on June 5 (the first morning of congress) to meet board members and other first-timers.

Did you know that the GCNA offers grants to cover registration costs for members who are attending congress for the first time? Note: the grant application deadline is April 15.

Congress events include presentations, masterclasses, workshops, and business meetings, as well as social opportunities to meet other carillonneurs - and of course lots of great music! We will be spending a lot of time outside listening to recitals, so be prepared with sunscreen, a hat, an umbrella, etc. Casual, comfortable dress is highly recommended! For the banquet, many people will dress up, but you won't feel out of place in smart casual attire either.

If you have questions about the GCNA Congress Registration Grants (for first-timers and new AC/Carillonneur Members), please contact (Chair, GCNA Events Committee).

Please direct other questions to the congress hosts: Jacob Womack or Jesse Ratcliffe.

Tentative Schedule

  • June 4: Optional pre-congress activities in the afternoon of June 4 include open tower times at Concord University and other carillons in the vicinity. The opening recital is tentatively scheduled for 5:30pm with reception to follow.
  • During the congress, there will be:
    • Three levels of masterclasses: beginner, intermediate, advanced
    • Panel discussions and presentations on programming for diverse audiences; internships; succession planning; developing our respective regions
    • Franco Commission discussion from the composer and performer
    • Displays of ACE and NACS graduates
    • Adequate open tower time
  • June 8: The final recital is tentatively scheduled to finish at 12:30pm on June 8.


GCNA congresses are open to everyone (whether a GCNA member or not).

Register by April 20 to secure the early bird discount rate of $240! The regular rate of $255 applies to registrations after April 20.

The registration fee includes lunches, as well as the Banquet on Friday evening.

Grants to Attend Congress: The GCNA is pleased to offer grants to cover the costs of congress registration fees for certain members, such as first-time attendees and members who have recently passed either exam. If you are applying for a grant, please do NOT register for congress until you receive approval for the grant. Note: the grant application deadline is April 15.

Register for Congress today!

Registration closes on May 31. After that date, please contact the congress hosts Jacob Womack or Jesse Ratcliffe directly to see if your attendance can still be accommodated.

Transportation and accommodation

Directions to Concord University

  • If you are flying, it is recommended that you use either the airports out of Roanoke, VA (ROA) and Charleston, WV (CRW). Both airports are approximately two hours from the University. Charlotte, NC (CLT) has an easy to navigate international airport as well, that’s about 3 hours to Concord, but does save the connection flight to either Roanoke or Charleston.
  • If opting for rail service, nearby Hinton (23 miles away) is serviced by Amtrak (HIN)
  • Please use 1000 Vermillion Street, Concord University, Athens WV 24712 for your GPS
  • From the Conference Hotel and other Hotels off of Route 460, it is recommended to take I-77 north and use exit 14. Take a right and continue on Mercer Springs Road. At the three way intersection of Mercer Springs Road and route 20, take a left. Once arriving in Athens, take a right at the first (and only) traffic signal. You’ll continue for about 0.5 mile and take a left at the main campus entrance. ***GPS may recommend Unity Road after using Exit 14, this route should be avoided as it is very curvy***

Parking and Campus Map

  • Campus Map
  • There is no fee to park and no permit is needed. Congress attendees are asked to park in the football stadium lot #3. All congress events are within short walking distance of this parking lot.
  • There is a loop and drop off point at University Point (where most Congress events will happen) for those with ADA needs.

Lodging information

  • Official Congress hotel: The Country Inn and Suites, located off of I-77 Exit 9 in Princeton, WV. This is one of the newer hotels in the area and is located about 15 minutes from the Concord University campus. A variety of single and double rooms blocked off, both are $135.00 plus tax per night. The cutoff date is May 5 at which point rooms not reserved will be released back to the general public. There is a special link to book online or you can call the hotel directly at 304-425-2200.
  • University residence halls: For an economical option, the University main residential hall has a block of suites available. Please book this when you register. Each suite has 2 beds and a connecting bathroom with another suite. Each suite has WiFi and AC, but please be advised they have minimal amenities. Everyone using University lodging needs to bring their own pillow, linens, and towels. There is an adjacent parking lot to the residential hall free of charge. Keys will be available at the Congress registration table. For planning purposes, the Congress and University request reservation for the entire duration of the event. There are 2 options:
    1. Single $35 per night, $140 total– meaning you have your own sleeping area, but do share a connecting bathroom with another suite.
    2. Double $25 per night and per person, meaning $100 total per individual– please be aware  you share a roommate in the sleeping area, and share a connecting bathroom with another suite.
Please note the Congress coordinator will make every attempt to honor roommate requests, which can be made at the time of registration. Clearly communicate with intended roommates and suitemates to minimize confusion.
  • Other options: There are additional hotels off of I-77 Exit 9 in Princeton, WV. The Congress has not blocked off rooms at these hotels. Recommended hotels for those not using the Country Inn and Suites or University Lodging include: Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn and Express, Sleep Inn, Hampton Inn, and Microtel Inn.


In addition to notating on your registration, please contact the Congress site host, Jacob Womack, by June 2nd if you have a dietary need or request.

  • Breakfast: There will be a small hospitality station in the mornings at University Point. It will include a small arrangement of breakfast finger foods, coffee, and water.
  • First-Time Breakfast: The Congress First-Time Breakfast will be held in the State Room, located on the 2nd floor of the Beasley Student Center.
  • Lunch: The price of lunch is included in your conference fee. Lunch will be in the dining hall located on the 2nd floor of the Beasley Student Center. This is about a 2-minute walk from the main Congress activities. Non registrants can also purchase lunch for $11.44 plus tax. It is not recommended to travel back to Princeton, WV, for lunch. Most restaurants in Princeton require a 20-minute drive each way. There are two restaurants in Athens within a 5-minute drive of campus:
  • Dinner: With the exception of the Friday banquet, all dinners are on your own. There are numerous chain restaurants located at the intersection of Routes 460 and I-77 including: Outback Steakhouse, Applebee's, Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Chili's, and more. Local favorites in this vicinity include:
  • Congress Banquet: The Congress Banquet has been funded by the Dr. Joseph F. Marsh Endowment at Concord University, and will be held in the Ballroom of the Jean and Jerry Beasley Student Center – one floor above the University Cafeteria. It will include a buffet of grilled lemon rosemary chicken, pan-roasted vegetables, roasted red potatoes, salad, rolls, dessert, and beverage. Dietary requests can be submitted during the registration process.
  • Other options:
    • Pipestem State Park and Resort has several restaurants, it is about 15-minutes from Concord University. Nice place to eat and take a short hike afterwards.
    • There are additional fast food restaurants located in the downtown Princeton vicinity.
  • Note: The University webpages list a Starbucks and Subway on campus. Unfortunately, these are closed during the summer and won't be available during the Congress. There is a Starbucks located near the conference hotel.

Additional information

Carillon tower and playing cabin

  • The Marsh Memorial Carillon is a 48-bell (no low C#) Paccard instrument from 1997. This concert pitch instrument uses carbon-fiber rods instead of traditional metal wires which greatly reduces noise at the console.
  • The playing cabin is located on the roof level of Marsh Hall. An elevator can be used to get to the 3rd floor of Marsh Hall. but please be advised there is no elevator to get to the playing cabin and roof. Access to the playing cabin requires navigating a narrow staircase with low ceilings. The playing cabin does have air conditioning and has an amplification system for the belfry.

Practice carillons

  • A practice carillon is located on the basement floor of the Alexander Fine Arts Building (Music Side). Signage will direct you there. It is isolated from the main Congress activity and should allow for optimal privacy for exam candidates. There are faculty offices nearby, but most will be vacant during the time of the Congress.
  • A Second ChimeMaster console will be available for practice times as well as presentations and Masterclasses

Recommended attire and weather

  • By early June, morning temperatures in southern WV typically hover around the upper 50s with highs in the upper 70s or low 80s by mid-day. All utilized spaces on campus are air conditioned. It is recommended that you pack a light jacket or hoodie just in case the temperatures are cooler. As rains can be expected, a tent with chairs will be available for comfort while listening to the carillon performances

Registration and arrival

  • Please come to University Point upon arrival to receive your welcome packet, t-shirt, and other pertinent items.


  • Forget to pack something or thought of something that would be nice to have? There is a Wal-Mart located across the road from the Conference Hotel. Also, a Dollar Store and CVS are a 2-minute drive from campus, or about a 10-15 minute walk.

Area attractions

  • As you plan your trip to Athens, you may wish to check out the carillons that encompass West Virginia. In Virginia you'll find Hollins University, the Luray Singing Tower, and Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville.  In the greater Charlotte area: Myers Park Presbyterian; First Presbyterian, Belmont, and First Presbyterian, Gastonia.
  • Pipestem State Park and Resort – hiking, tram ride, horseback riding, scenic views, and more
  • Bluestone State Park – Bluestone Lake, hiking, camping, pool, fishing, etc
  • Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine – inactive coal mine, takes you underground for tour
  • New River Gorge National Park – many overlooks, hiking trails, and the iconic New River Gorge Bridge
  • Historic Bramwell – once home to the most millionaires per capita in the country, includes historic mansions and a world famous diner
  • Historic Hinton – Located along the New River and Bluestone Lake. Opportunities for dining, natural beauty, and viewing of several waterfalls (Sandstone Falls is breathtaking)

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