There’s something so charming about the sound of bells in the air. And at U-M we are fortunate to have not one, but two grand carillons on our campus. The Baird Carillon inside Burton Memorial Tower was dedicated in 1936; the Lurie Carillon Tower came 60 years later. Honestly, can you imagine the University campus without the sound of the Westminster chimes? It’s so old-fashioned and downright analog.
This month, I decided to use the podcast to get inside Burton Tower and see the Baird Carillon in person. I spent a morning with U-M carillonist and assistant professor Tiffany Ng watching her rehearse on the practice carillon before ascending the steps to play a 30-minute concert for the random townies, students, squirrels, and faculty members zig-zagging across the Diag on a bright, sunny Thursday.
I kind of lost my mind when Ng allowed me to “play” the instrument — three notes, at least (the highest, the lowest, and the G above Middle C). Not gonna lie. When I hit the big boy — the one that weighs 12 tons — I regressed to about age 6 and literally squealed. Ng said, “Hit it hard. Everyone’s going to hear it.” And it saaaaang, baby.
I felt like a kid up there, delighted to have a behind-the-scenes view of such an iconic piece of Michigan history. I highly recommend it, just for the view, if nothing else. Next time you’re on campus, check the door. If it’s not locked, you are more than welcome.