Keep calm and carillon


Rachel Williams/OP archives

The Elliott Tower has a 49-bell carillon installed inside, weighing more than 15 tons.

For the second summer in a row, Oakland University is bringing the community together through the use of Elliott Tower.

The Carillon Concert series put on by the university gives students and community members the chance to see internationally recognized carillonneurs perform for free.

A carillon is an instrument comprised of at least 23 bells, traditionally suspended in a bell tower. The Elliott Tower has a fully chromatic 49-bell carillon installed that together weighs more than 15 tons.

Despite what Disney movie fans may be picturing, carillonneurs are far from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Carollineurs are a “small niche,” according to University of Michigan professor and guest carillonneur, Tiffany Ng.

Carillonneurs travel the world, playing a variety of carillons in cities far and wide. Most carillons are divided between North America and Europe, but the instruments can be found worldwide.

“Actually, this is a very light carillon,” Ng said of the Elliott Tower’s carillon. “It’s a really gorgeous instrument. It’s one of only 640 in the world, so a real treasure.”

The university will be putting on free concerts every Friday at 6 p.m. from July 1 to Aug. 5. Each performance will be an hour long and include a free tour of the tower after the concert and question and answer session with the carillonneurs.

At the June 8 performance, Professor Ng explained the history of carillons, her experiences and what makes Elliott Tower special.

“You have a very advanced clock tower,” Ng said. “It has the ability to program melodies into it, so that’s not one I’ve seen often. Another thing that’s really unique about this tower, I’d say, is that the carillon is just so responsive.”

The clock tower concerts have offered the community a chance to look at OU in a new perspective, drawing together a large amount of people of all ages.

“The concert series definitely brings people together,” said George Preisinger, OU’s assistant vice president of technical support. “There are a significant number of faculty and staff who have attended the concerts both last year and this year along with the larger external community at large.”

The upcoming Friday, July 22 performance features Linda Dzuris from Clemson University. The July 29 performance will feature the Netherlands’ Hylke Banning, and the Aug. 5 performance will be played by Mathieu Daniel Polak, who is also from the Netherlands. Check out one of these events to mingle and enjoy the music played from Elliott Tower.