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Carillon Silence May Soon End

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
February 7, 2007

The carillon that was silenced during the T-Hall renovation project may soon fill the air with song again now that the bell system’s memory box has been shipped to California.

Located at the Elliot Alumni Center, the 246-bell computerized system is wired to eight speakers at T-Hall that broadcast its music across campus.

According to music professor Peter Urquhart, the carillon is undergoing major repairs. The amplification system has been brought upstairs in the Alumni Center, where it had been housed in the basement. The clock controller is being replaced. And the music controller is in now the hands of a California company that will download its memory into a new box.

Urquhart estimates that 250 songs have been recorded on the carillon. He alone is responsible for some hundred classical tunes, many played with bells. In October, when Urquhart was asked to prepare a concert for the dedication of T-Hall, he found that while he could get the carillon to play, he couldn’t record any new songs.

“It was like it was frozen,” Urquhart says. “I’m hoping they can put the old memory in a new machine and that we don’t lose anything.”

He described the system as having a very complex sound.

“I’m told we’ll get it back sometime this month,” Urquhart says of reports he has received from the bell technicians working on campus. “But time is passing so we’ll see. It would be nice to have it playing again.”

Urquhart also wants the carillon back in working order so he can use it in a bell-oriented class he is teaching. For more than fifty years, the carillon has rung out over campus, even playing holiday music at Christmastime.

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