WHAT IS A CARILLON?
ASU’s Symphonic Carillon is a unique musical instrument that includes 258 “tubular” bells cast to sound like large foundry bells. In the 1940s, Maas-Rowe Carillons in Escondido, California, patented a method of tuning small chimes so they had the same sonority and quality as large bells weighing up to 20,000 pounds. The sound is authentic because genuine metal is being struck providing all the nuances of natural ringing metal. The bells hang in glass cases and are played by means of an organ-like console.
Associated Students of ASU purchased the 148-bell Symphonic Carillon in 1966 for $25,000, using funds accumulated through careful fiscal management of its student activity fees over the years.
Then-President G. Homer Durham suggested the carillon purchase. 1966-67 ASASU President Robert McConnell, now a Washington, D.C., attorney, recalled that Durham "talked about the contribution the bells would make to the daily lives of students who would be able to count on the music to announce the hours of the day. He envisioned concerts that could be shared by students and faculty all across campus. He described how they would enrich special campus events."
The carillon was installed in a glass studio in Matthews Library, so passers-by could watch the carillonneur as he performed. It was dedicated in January 1967 to ASU alumni who died in the service of their country in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Just a few years after it was installed, the carillon, still in prime condition, was removed from Matthews Library to accommodate remodeling for disabled-access. The carillon was placed in storage in the stacks of Matthews Center, where it remained until December 2002.
After a three-year fund-raising campaign, the carillon was modernized, cleaned and tuned and installed in the Zuni Room in the Memorial Union in 2005 until the devastating fire in 2007 when the carillon was forced back into storage. In April 2009, ASU’s carillon moved into it permanent location in the lower level of Old Main on the Tempe campus.
Why was it put into storage? No one knows for sure, but we can only guess that no one was ever placed in charge of it. A carillon lover discovered the Symphonic Carillon in December 2002, and now the ASU community is working toward restoring the instrument to its rightful place.
Play the Carillon
If you play the piano, organ or electronic keyboard, you can play the Symphonic Carillon! Guests are welcome to spend some time playing this instrument and learning more about it. To schedule an appointment, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the ASU Carillon Society
Help plan concerts, sing-a-longs, and other events, and join the effort to keep the Symphonic Carillon a cherished tradition at ASU. Contact: email@example.com
Join Our Mailing List
Sign up to receive emails of upcoming events, occasional newsletters by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
OneAZ Credit Union Student Carillonneur Scholarship. The Credit Union offers a $500 scholarship each year to an ASU undergraduate student who will study the carillon, give two concerts and play at the various events scheduled throughout the year. Information: email@example.com
Robert X. La Pat Carillon Composition Contest. Students are invited to compete for a $250 prize for the best composition for the Symphonic Carillon. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
WE STILL REMEMBER
When Associated Students of Arizona State University bought the Symphonic Carillon as a gift for the University in 1966, the students dedicated it to all those students, faculty and alumni who have given their lives in the defense of our country
ASU's Department of Archives and Special Collections has records of ASU students, staff and faculty who lost their lives in World War I, World War II and Vietnam, but only one name for Korea. (One name appears on both World War I and World War II lists.)