Schenectady County

UAlbany carillon again playing music

The sound of music pealed from the University at Albany’s historic carillon on Friday for the first

The sound of music pealed from the University at Albany’s historic carillon on Friday for the first time since 1993, echoing across the campus.

The carillon will be used as it has been in the past for music, but for the first time it will also serve as a public address system to inform the university campus of any emergencies or safety advisories.

“The carillon is an architectural feature that distinguishes our university and is one of our most enduring alumni gifts,” Interim President George Philip said Friday in a statement. “Now, with its enhanced capacity for early warnings, it’s also an important element of our campus safety plan.”

The carillon is located on top of the 250-foot Edward Durell Stone water tower on the academic podium. It was a gift from the Alumni Association, which started the “Project Carillon” in 1964 and raised $30,000 by 1966, when the carillon was installed on a tower at Dutch Quad.

“The Alumni Association wanted to pay tribute to the school and at the same time contribute to the growing traditions,” said Kenneth Doran, class of 1939, who was honorary chairman for “Project Carillon.”

The carillon was moved in 1972 to the tower where it has played the alma mater and other university songs for more than three decades.

In the late 1960s, the carillon was played at 4 p.m. on Fridays to mark the end of the week.

By 1993, the concerts had stopped and the bells that once marked each hour and half hour, reminding students they overslept or had to get to class, were the only sounds that came from the carillon, until Friday.

At Friday’s ceremony, the carillon sounded with the song “Smoke on the Water” and the theme to the television show “The Adams Family.” During the holidays, seasonal music will be played.

“We are looking to revive the tradition of the concerts and the frequency of them. People respond well to tradition,” said University at Albany spokesman Karl Luntta.

The system at the university is a Symphonic Carillon, which is similar to an organ. A keyboard, called a baton console, is used along with a method to amplify the chimes to simulate the sounds of the larger, variable-sized bells that were and are still used today in the church towers of Europe.

In the Middle Ages, the original carillons were used as early warning systems with distinct tones and rhythms that notified people about fires and attacks, but also sounded for happy events including the birth of a new baby, a wedding or religious holiday.

The repairs, which cost about $9,000, were done by Maas Rowe Carillons of California, the same company that installed the original carillon.

As part of the repairs, the carillon has also been outfitted with a new public address unit that will be used in addition to the university’s current system that includes New York Alert, which distributes messages via phone, text, fax or e-mail.

The carillon can also play pre-recorded music and will be featured at UAlbany Day on Oct. 25.

The city of Albany rang its own carillon at noon on Friday to mark the return of the university’s carillon.

The city’s carillon at City Hall was dedicated in 1927, has 49 bells, a range of four octaves and is one of 100 concert level carillons in North America.

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