Carillon Comeback

Carillon Comeback

Campus was oddly quiet during the spring semester—and no, it’s not because 52,000 students all had their noses buried in books.  Extensive renovations on the Kniker Carillon in the UT Tower began in October, and at presstime, its 56 bells hadn’t uttered a single “ding” or “dong” since. For those students whose punctuality has suffered without the quarter-hourly chimes, there’s good news: the renovations are tentatively scheduled to have wrapped up in April, and longtime bell-ringer Tom Anderson, BM ’53, MA ’56, Life Member, will be back in action.

When Anderson, now 89, started playing the bells as a music student in 1952, he never suspected it would become a career gig.

“Originally it was just a student-assistant job in the music department,” he recalls. “Whenever the student carillonneur would leave, there’d always be some friend around that’d been interested, and that was it.”

For Anderson, though, it was a family business—his predecessor was his brother, David. “You might say there was a little nepotism involved there,” he jokes. “But I’ve been playing the carillon ever since.”

The Kniker Carillon renovations began as a regular check-up in the fall and have since been extended several times, much to Anderson’s dismay. The five-month hiatus is the longest he’s been away from the bells in his 61 years as carillonneur, and he’s as excited as we are for their return to service. Anderson’s only worry? “I’m just hoping that I can remember how to play it,” he laughs.

Tom Anderson.


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