Woodstock Chimes Company History

How It All Began....

1970s

1970s - The Adapted Lawn Chair

As a music student in the 1970s, Garry learned about ancient music with scales that could not be played on modern instruments. Garry decided to build a metallophone (a xylophone-like instrument) that could play the ancient scale of Olympos, a Greek flute player from the 7th century B.C. Being an ecologically minded recent college graduate on a tight budget, Garry found the materials for his metallophone at a landfill—it was made from the aluminum tubes of a discarded lawn chair. Garry played this metallophone on tour with the Blackearth Percussion Group, which he co-founded.

 

Spring 1979 – The First Woodstock Chime

After Garry had the brainstorm to transform his fascination with ancient musical scales into something that everyone, even non-musicians, could enjoy, he made his first musically tuned windchime. It was the perfect instrument that the wind could play randomly—no formal training required! Prior to this windchimes were pretty and made sound, but this was the first chime that made music! Garry’s wife, Diane, invited Garry to exhibit his new chime in her booth at the Cincinnati Crafts Fair where it immediately sparked interest among the attendees. The first Chimes of Olympos® was sold that day!

Summer 1979 - The First Factory

Three of Garry’s first chimes were made in a basement in Cincinnati. When the Kvistads moved to the Hudson Valley on July 4th, 1979, the company got its first “factory”—a barn in West Hurley, NY—and adopted the name of a nearby center for the arts, becoming Woodstock Chimes®. Garry was equally at home with a hammer as with a tuning fork or drumstick, 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 the wood for the chimes 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.

1980s

Early 1980s – 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 then NBC News correspondent Nancy Foreman (pictured here). As the company gained recognition, the line expanded to include two new chimes: the Chimes of Partch® and the Chimes of Lun®. All three of the original Woodstock Chimes remain customer favorites today!

Summer 1984 – Woodstock Chimes® at the NY Gift Show

Garry and Executive VP Stacey Bowers staff Woodstock Chimes’ booth at the New York International Gift Show at the Pier in Manhattan. It is the inaugural year both for Woodstock Chimes exhibiting at the show and for Accent on Design at the NYIGF show.

1985 – The New Factory in Hurley, NY

The employees of Woodstock Chimes® pose outside the company’s West Hurley factory. Woodstock Chimes were made in this building from 1985 until 1999, when Woodstock Chimes relocated to nearby Shokan, NY.

1986 – The Award-winning Chimalong® is Introduced

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 Woodstock Chimes® tubes and create a xylophone-like instrument. This clever metallophone (metal xylophone) was the start of the Woodstock Music Collection®. The Chimalong helps teach children to read music and inspires improvisation. A fun and educational “toy,” it has earned many awards. It now comes in a variety of sizes and remains one of our best-selling items.

1986 - The Woodstock Chimes® Fund is Established

Garry and Diane Kvistad created The Woodstock Chimes Fund, a nonprofit 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 its members respond to those in need. Further, they believe they have a responsibility as a corporate citizen to give back to the community that has helped make their success possible. Woodstock Chimes also gives back through its Charitable Chimes series. Proceeds from the sale of each chime in the series support various nonprofit causes. Current and past endeavors include Tibetan culture, autism, breast cancer and the September 11, 2001 Children’s Fund, among others.

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 Montgomery County Courthouse in Montgomery, AL. This massive 6½ 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 took a good breeze to make the chime ring, but that’s all part of the charm. Windchimes aren’t mechanical; they play at the whim of nature.

1990s

October 1990 – Woodstock Chimes® at Carnegie Hall

The late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu was commissioned to compose a concerto for the 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 led to the performers on stage. Garry became a member of NEXUS in 2002 and they continue to perform this work around the world.

1995 – Woodstock Chimes® Adds Bells to the Mix

Still popular today, Woodstock Garden Bells™ have nine brass bells that blossom up from a GardenStone™ base, creating a kinetic sculpture that can be played by hand, by birds or by the wind. Our selection of bells has grown greatly and now includes 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 are acoustically designed to sound like distant harbor bells.

1998 – Garry wins a GRAMMY® Award

In addition to being the founder and CEO of Woodstock Chimes®, Garry is also a premier percussionist. He has served as the timpanist and percussionist with the Chicago Grant Park Symphony, was a summer Tanglewood Fellow and has been featured in performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic. He also performs with Steve Reich and in 1998 Garry won a GRAMMY Award for his performance in Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

1999 – Woodstock Chimes® moves to Olivewoods in Shokan, NY

Having outgrown the building in West Hurley, Woodstock Chimes packed up and moved one town over to Shokan, NY. The headquarters in on 150-acre campus that includes the lovely Goose Pond out front and has as a backdrop, the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Employees have to be careful to avoid wildlife; we’ve got loads of wildlife here, including turtles, herons, Canada geese, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, wild turkeys and the occasional bear!

2000s

2000 – Woodstock Chimes® Introduces the Incomparable Woodstock Windsinger Chimes™

Made from extra thick-walled, specially suspended aluminum tubes, these chimes resonate for much longer than any other chimes, producing enduring harmonies that are beyond compare.

2002 – The Encore® Collection arrives, Providing Superior Quality and Superior Value

Encore Collection chimes share a distinct look and an enchanting tuning that sounds out of this world in any size. Because Encore Collection chimes have these things in common, they are economical to produce and offer the high value of Woodstock Chimes® at a lower cost.

2002 – The Emperor Gong™ - A Best Seller from Day One

Our first gong was an Asian-inspired, contemporary design called the Emperor Gong. One of our best-selling items since its launch, 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 Chimes® 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 – 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 our 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.”

 

Summer 2003 – Woodstock Chimes® Commissioned to Build Memorial

When the President of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota decided to build a memorial to former students, he thought of Woodstock Chimes. This massive collection of Woodstock Windsinger Chimes™ are tuned to notes from the hymn Beautiful Savior, the St. Olar Choir’s signature song.

2003 – Our Chimalong® Wins the Prestigious Parents’ Choice Top 25 Toys of 25 Years Award

Parents’ Choice is a nonprofit guide to quality products that help kids grow–imaginatively, physically, morally and mentally. Parents’ Choice Award winners must challenge, inspire and entertain, igniting imagination, stimulating creativity and imparting a body of knowledge, all while being fun. According to Parents’ 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.”

December, 2003 – Garry and NEXUS perform in LA

Garry, now a regular member of NEXUS, appears with the ensemble as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the new Walt Disney Concert Hall (designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry). Shown here is one of the two custom sets of Woodstock Chimes used in Takemitsu’s From me flows what you call Time. The chimes are suspended above the audience and activated by color streamers that lead to the performers on stage.

Christmas, 2003 – Woodstock Chimes® and the Paul Winter Consort

The Paul Winter Consort (Paul, far right) at the 24th Annual Winter Solstice Celebration in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC. Behind them is Paul’s revolving Solstice Tree, made up of assorted bells, gongs and dozens of Woodstock Chimes.

Early 2000s – A Giant Woodstock Chime Marks the Spot

This super-sized Woodstock Chime is tuned to the same scale as the Chimes of Bali™. The 18 foot tall sculptural stand, created by Swiss designer Bernhard Anliker, was installed on the shore of Goose Pond in front of the current Woodstock Chimes® headquarters location.

2003 – Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

Amazing Grace is undoubtedly one of America’s best loved and widely known hymns. We introduced our first series of Amazing Grace Chimes (small, medium and large) in 2003 and sales took off. Perpetual best sellers, the Amazing Grace Chime™ – Medium and Large are two of the most popular chimes we’ve ever created.

2008 – Woodstock Chimes® Acquires Asli Arts®

We expanded our 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. 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.

2009 – The First Biennial Drum Boogie Festival®

Produced by The Woodstock Chimes® Fund with Garry as Executive Director, the Drum Boogie Festival is a free daylong musical event with over a dozen music and dance performers. Past performers have included big names such as jazz great Jack DeJohnette and the Levon Helm Studio’s Midnight Ramble Band, as well as local talent, including students from the Kingston, NY area.

2010s

2010 – ICON Award

In 2010, Garry won the 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.”

2011 – Woodstock Rainbow Makers™ Add Sparkle to the Line

Made with genuine Austrian crystals, Woodstock Rainbow Makers are crystal suncatchers that do for light what our chimes do for sound. With a wide variety of designs and colors, these dazzling crystals have sparkle a-plenty. Most come ready to give in an organza bag or a four-color gift box. Woodstock Rainbow Makers have been in high demand ever since their debut.

2014 – Woodstock Chimes for Autism™ Launches with Chimes for Autism: Tyler’s Story Video

This Charitable Chime seeks to elevate autism awareness and support those living with autism. 100% of the after-tax profits from the sale of the chime are donated to research and educational organizations focused on autism. The video features 8-year-old Tyler, who loves windchimes and can identify the musically tuned Woodstock Chimes® just by hearing them ring. Selected to screen at many film festivals, including the Sprout and Woodstock Film Festivals, the video ends with a Name-That-Chime challenge between Tyler and Garry that is a must-see.

Woodstock Chimes Company History

How It All Began....