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SMSU's new carillon is in a 140-foot-tall bell tower in the newly renovated Duane G. Meyer Library. The carillon is named for SMSU benefactor Jane A. Meyer, who passed away in February. Meyer, and her husband Ken, donated funds to purchase the 48 bronze bells inside the tower. The bells were installed last summer, but the tower has been under construction since then.
Jeremy Chessman was hired in January to be SMSU's resident carillonist. He performs on the carillon every weekday at noon and at five p.m.
I met Chessman in the southwest corner of the library's third floor, where 92 steps lead up to the room containing the carillon's playing cabinet.
As we climb the steps, we hear the radio of the workmen, who are working on the tower roof.
The carillon's playing cabinet is six stories up, in a small room just under the bell chamber. The cabinet has a large oak frame with two rows of wooden levers sticking out of the middle. Below is a row of foot pedals, resembling pedals on a church organ. Each lever is connected to a wire, which disappears through a small hole in the ceiling.
Jeremy Chessman admits the carillon doesn't look like a musical instrument.
The Jane A. Meyer Carillon has four octaves on the manual keyboard. The lower two octaves can also be played with the foot pedals, freeing the hands for other notes.
Chessman says the keyboard is played by striking the levers with his hands
When a key or foot pedal is depressed, a series of wires and pulleys moves a cast iron clapper, striking the inside of a bell in the tower above. The bells themselves are stationary. Larger bells have heavier clappers, which is another reason the low notes can be played with foot pedals.
Because the playing cabinet is located below the bell chamber, the carillon sounds much different inside than it does outside.
Here's how the carillon sounds to the carillonist:
This is how it sounds across the street from the tower:
Jeremy Chessman will play the Jane A. Meyer Carillon at the dedication ceremony on Saturday. After performing several pieces alone, he'll join the SMSU Pride Band in a special arrangement of "The Great Gate of Kiev" by Mossoursky.
The ceremony begins at two-fifteen tomorrow afternoon. It will held just south of SMSU's Glass Hall, rain or shine, and it's free and opened to the public.
From the Jane A. Meyer Carillon, I'm Jenny Fillmer for KSMU News.