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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 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.

Comments

  1. Jon Durr - 1995

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

    what a nasty thing to do……..

    Reply

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