Ring in the holidays with ‘Carillon for Christmas’
CLEMSON — Just in time for the holiday season, Clemson University carillonneur Linda Dzuris has released “Carillon for Christmas,” a limited-edition CD that is the first professional recording of music from the Clemson University Memorial Carillon.
Dzuris, a music faculty member in Clemson’s performing arts department, said the CD was recorded in honor of the carillon’s silver anniversary.
“There were several events on campus last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Clemson Memorial Carillon, such as playing top Twitter-requested songs on certain days,” she said.
But while there have been holiday season concerts in the past, many people are not on campus in late December to hear them. This recording gives Clemson students, employees and fans the opportunity to hear and hear holiday tunes from the instrument any time.
Though the recording took only a day, the preparation for the album was extensive.
“First, I made a list of published carillon arrangements that I own and like,” Dzuris said. “Next, I narrowed the list down to the length of a typical CD, which means playing through and timing each one.” She then tailored the order of the tracks to give the playlist some variety in terms of tempo and style. Once the pieces were chosen, she contacted the music publishers to secure recording rights.
Then came the logistical challenge of recording the carillon. “It is much more difficult than other instruments because you can’t take the carillon to a studio,” she said.
In this case, preparing the recording equipment takes much longer than the recording itself.
“The sound of the bells in the bell chamber is overpowering. You also get mechanical noise from the instrument itself, so you can’t just stick microphones up there. The best place to hear the bells is 150 feet away from the tower, but then you get all kinds of outside noise, like people, wind, airplanes, revving motorcycles and sirens,” she said. Also, apparently, insects and birds.
“One particular bumble bee was fascinated with the tower microphones and his buzzing had to be edited out of several pieces.” Listeners might also hear the chirping of birds, as the recording took place in early May.
Luckily, the performing arts department has many talented graduates, like Dan McCoy, who was the project’s recording engineer. Dzuris said McCoy, who now is a graduate student, was integral to the process.
“He came up with the concept of blending sound recorded at the base of the bell chamber with sounds captured using microphones hung outside windows on a lower floor of the tower,” Dzuris said.
McCoy was also responsible for the album’s title, which is based on the idea of the carillon as a gift to Clemson, “and Christmas is a time for giving, hence, ‘Carillon for Christmas.’”
Funded by a grant from the Reynolds Endowment for Music and professional development funds, Dzuris is excited that all proceeds will go to the Clemson Carillon Program for student grants-in-aid and carillon library purchases.
The CD is available online.