Clemson Memorial Carillon bells to ring to the tune of 23 national anthems
CLEMSON — Clemson University will help ring in Upstate International Month when performing arts students play 23 different national anthems on the Clemson Memorial Carillon beginning at noon this upcoming Saturday.
It will last approximately one hour and can be enjoyed from within a quarter-mile radius of Tillman Hall, the home of the carillon.
Carillon students, ranging from freshmen through graduate students, each will play a national anthem from a different country. The countries that will be represented — chosen by random lottery — include Germany, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Turkey, Belgium, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, Colombia, Austria, Greece, Latvia, Poland, the Netherlands and Australia.
The suggested best places to listen include Bowman Field, the Military Heritage Plaza, Cox Plaza and the Carillon Garden.
Organizers of Upstate International Month invited all faiths and organizations with bells or carillons to join in ringing 100 bells at noon Saturday across the South Carolina Upstate to mark the launch of the community initiative aimed at celebrating the diverse cultures within the Upstate’s 10 counties.
Comprised of 47 handmade bells, the Clemson Memorial Carillon is the university’s largest musical instrument, as well as one of the largest in South Carolina. The bells range in size from 32 pounds to more than two tons.
“It is certainly not the type of instrument you can carry around with you,” joked Linda Dzuris, university carillonneur and associate professor of music. “Most people believe that the carillon is played by pulling ropes connected to each bell, but that is a common misconception. They think it’s like Quasimodo in the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame.’”
In fact, clappers mechanically linked to a keyboard strike the bells. Arranged much like other keyboard instruments, a carillon’s keyboard consists of wooden batons about two-feet in length that are struck using closed fists. In addition, there are pedals similar to an organ’s played with the feet.
The Clemson Memorial Carillon was dedicated in 1987, completing a two-year fundraising and building effort that was spearheaded by Rembert “Red” Horton (Class of 1930) and members of the Class of 1943. The Paccard Fonderie in Cloches, France, cast the bells. Since its dedication, the carillon has announced the beginning of each academic year; celebrated Clemson University football victories; presented concerts; and mourned the passing of students, faculty and administrators.
Clemson University is the only university or college in South Carolina where students can learn to play the carillon. Dzuris gives both private and group lessons on the massive instrument.