If you walk through the Cox Arboretum at noon on a Saturday, chances are you’ve heard the chime of bells coming from the Arthur R. Metz Bicentennial Grand Carillon.
Groups of students sat in the arboretum Saturday morning, chatting and listening to the sonorous sounds of songs such as “Edelweiss,” the “Super Mario Bros.” theme and “Hail to Old IU.”
These songs are part of a weekly 45-minute concert series titled “Meet Me at the Metz,” sponsored by the IU Jacobs School of Music.
The carillon has a rich history at IU. The original carillon, built in 1970, was housed on North Jordan Avenue and 17th Street. The tower was a gift left to IU by the late Dr. Arthur Metz, an Indiana native. The university decided to move the structure and expand the number of bells from 61 to 65, making the instrument a grand carillon, after the Board of Trustees voted to refurbish the instrument in 2017. There are around 180 carillons in North America according to the Guild of Carilloneurs in North America.
Janette Fishell, chair of the organ department at the Jacobs School of Music and IU alumna, said the carillon had been a big part of her experiences at IU. But by the time she joined the faculty in 2008, the carillon had fallen into disuse.
“It was a very prominent part of the soundscape of this campus,” Fishell said. “The decision was to scrap it or rebuild the tower, and this is the perfect location.”
IU debuted the new structure in January ahead of the bicentennial and created the associate instructor position for carilloneur, funded by the Office of the Provost.
Lynnli Wang, associate instructor for carillon, is a master’s student in organ performance. She offers lessons to all students inside and outside the Jacobs School of Music. The only prerequisite, Wang said, are basic music skills of reading treble and bass clef.
“It’s such a wonderful addition to campus,” Wang said. “There is no other instrument quite like it.”
“The carillon is a public instrument meant to be enjoyed by the community,” Wang said. “It’s located at the heart of campus, and I want to play stuff that people want to hear.”
Student Shayla Van Hal is a regular at the concerts. She said she enjoys being able to listen to the carillon each week.
“I enjoy the variety of music,” Van Hal said. “My last school didn’t have a carillon, so it’s really nice to have this as something to do on a Saturday with friends.”
In addition to the weekly concerts, concertgoers can anticipate an upcoming dedicatory recital. The recital was scheduled for last April but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The organ department will also collaborate with the music composition department in the school of music to create new works for the carillon.
Daniel Cueto, a second year doctoral student in music composition, came to listen to the carillon live for the first time ahead of the music composition department’s commission of new works for the carillon. Cueto said when composing, he won’t be able to play directly on the instrument.
“The challenge is going to be imagining how the piece sounds without actually being able to test it out,” Cueto said. “But that’s part of the thrill.”
More information about upcoming performances and carillon study can be found on the organ department’s carillon blog.