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

Forever young

Simple pleasures

Presenting the Baird Carillon 1936

The carillon in the Burton Memorial Tower was donated in 1936 by Charles Baird, a former athletic director and University graduate of the class of 1895. From left: Charles Baird, an unidentified man, Alexander Ruthven, and a representative of the foundry. (Image courtesy of U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)

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 sunny Thursday morning with U-M carillonist and assistant professor Tiffany Ng watching her rehearse on the practice carillon. Then we climbed the steps so she could perform a 30-minute concert for the random townies, students, squirrels, and faculty members zig-zagging across the Diag.

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.


  1. Jon Durr - 1995

    you reference a podcast, but give us no link to it!

    what a nasty thing to do……..


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