Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Episode 31: There were bells

Isn’t it grand

Tiffany Ng

Tiffany Ng performs on the Baird Carillon. (Image: D. Holdship.)

It’s a beautiful Thursday morning on the Diag and the sounds coming from the Baird Carillon inside Burton Memorial Tower are sassy, expressive, and eccentric, not the typical fare one associates with a gothic tower and its mournful chimes.

That’s just the way assistant professor and U-M carillonist Tiffany Ng likes it. From her private concert hall high above the Michigan campus, Ng subverts tradition and makes it a point to commission, debut, and showcase underrepresented composers. She actively seeks out work by African-American composers, including Trevor Weston (who she met on social media). She also is on the quest for female writers and recently arranged a piece intended for toy piano by Phyllis Chen. Contemporary, living composers are her carillon jam.

“The carillon repertoire was developed with the assumption that listeners were white, male, and Christian,” she says. “I really feel we have a responsibility to all the people who have been marginalized by carillon music to arrange and compose for them too.”

In addition to conducting research and teaching, Ng presents two 30-minute concerts per day on the University’s two grand carillons, the Baird on Central Campus, and the Lurie Carillon on North Campus.

Ng holds degrees in musicology and new media and loves to experiment with technology, sounds, and genres. She is one of only seven full-time carillonists in the country. Ng will be on a faculty fellowship in the near future, but will be back to ring your bells before you know it.

Comments

  1. Matthew Boulton - MD 87, MPH 91

    Fascinating interview with Tiffany Ng, she projects such love of the carillon. I first came to UM in 1988 for my medical residency, and I can’t begin to convey how much I have enjoyed the carillon music over these last 30 years. I live close enough to the university in the arboretum area that I can often hear the carillon from my home which I’ve always considered a wonderful bonus. It’s great that Tiffany is diversifying the music, featuring the work of new composers, and reaching out to non-traditional audiences, we’re lucky to have her on faculty at UM.

    Matt

    Reply

    • Deborah Holdship

      I agree. She is fantastic.

      Reply

  2. Ann-Ellen Akeley - 1980-Ph.D, Slavic Languages and Literatures

    Such a pleasure to listen to this interview and think of Burton Tower and the music which greeted me as I came and went so many times at the Modern Languages Building next door. Congratulations to Dr. Ng on her work and sense of forward movement. Is there a carillon recording available from U of M?

    Reply

  3. Elissa Hepner - 1956

    What a beautiful and informative interview with Dr. Ng. I have special reverence to the Burton Tower as its architect was my great uncle, Albert Kahn. Thank you to both of you.

    Reply

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