BYU Carillon Tower getting new roof, water damage repairs

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BYU students are used to hearing the familiar tune of “Come, Come, Ye Saints” played every hour at the BYU Centennial Carillon Tower. For a short period, however, students will have to rely on their own clocks rather than the hourly chimes as the 90-foot bell tower is being refurbished.

Although the bell tower is 40 years old, it has not had any renovations aside from fixing the bells and keyboard in 2006. Construction workers are refurbishing the bell tower and adding a new roof to the structure.

Maddi Dayton
Despite construction, BYU organ study students are free to use the carillon playing keyboard in between construction sessions. (Maddi Driggs)

Emily Hellewell from University Communications said the bell tower also needed its structural integrity checked and its exterior stones resealed, in addition to other general repairs.

The scaffolding is expected to come down at the beginning of May, while construction will be finished by late spring. However, associate professor Don Cook from the School of Music said that construction workers have found more water and ice damage than expected.

“Construction has been slower than anticipated since the cement needs to be redone,” Cook said.

Even though the hourly bells are not ringing, BYU carillonneurs can still practice when the workers are out eating lunch. Students from the School of Music will practice on the carillon at noon daily during the fall and winter semesters.

Cook’s students play a variety of music during their practice time. “You will hear popular pieces, compositions, folk songs, ranges of hymns, 18th century historical carillon pieces, classical pieces and movie scores in order to reach a diverse audience,” he said.

The bell tower has a history for playing songs during special events, including the 1987 U.S. Bicentennial “Bells Across America” that celebrated the U.S. Constitution and the 1989 concert “Bells of Tribute to Celebrate George Washington” that honored his 200th year anniversary of Washington’s inauguration as President.

The 90-foot bell tower has 52 bells, with weight ranging from 25 to 4,730 pounds. The clavier keyboard is not played in the same fashion as a piano or organ. The user slams their fists on the keys in order to control the mechanisms of the bells. The foot pedals on a carillon are also used to ring the bells.

The bell tower was constructed in 1975 in celebration of the school’s centennial anniversary. President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the bell tower during the Founder’s Day Convocation in October 1975.

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