Hear the Conversation 19:18 – 26.5 mb mp3
The Michigan State University carillon features 49 bells and is capable of playing the full range of literature composed for the instrument. The first ten bells were installed in Beaumont Tower in 1928. Thirteen additional bells were added in 1935 to make the instrument a carillon. Both the carillon and the tower were renovated in 1996.
Dr. Ray McLellan is the MSU Carillonneur, and he enjoys playing the bells. “You can express yourself so easily on this instrument because you can play soft or really loud. You have a wide range with these bells…the largest bell is two and a half tons, and the smallest bell is fifteen pounds.”
And lest you think the only kind of music coming out of Beaumont Tower is the stuffy sort, McLellan says the people playing the carillon offer a wide variety of tunes. “Any kind of music that’s composed for carillon, but we also arrange pieces from popular music or from classical music to be played on the keyboard.”
Ray also loves it when visitors strap on their fitbit and traverse the 73 stairs to visit him and the bells. On Tuesdays from 12:00 to 12:30, the Beaumont Tower is open to those who would like to see how the bells are played.
Ehmpressions of MSU is a podcast devoted to all things Michigan State University produced by Kraig Ehm.