The University Record, October 22, 1996

Bell Tower dedication pulls out all the stops

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services


From Richard Strauss's Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare through the world premiere of Chip Davis's True Blue, and Mussorgsky's The Great Gate of Kiev, the dedication of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus was a sight and sound extravaganza.

The multi-media presentation featured the lighted tower with fireworks, a laser light show and video projections. Music was provided by the Symphony Brass Band conducted by H. Robert Reynolds; Margo Halsted, university carilloneur, and Ray McLellan, assistant carilloneur.

Among the carillon selections was the first performance of William Albright's "Bells in the Air" from his Suite for Carillon, which was commissioned by Peter M. and Paulett Banks. Peter Banks is a former dean of the College of Engineering. Albright is the chair of Musical Composition in the School of Music and a well-known piano and organ performer.

A premiere performance of Chip Davis's True Blue featured the carillon duo and both the mechanical and electronic aspects of the carillon, utilizing the instrument's MIDI capabilities. Davis, a 1969 music education graduate and the genius behind Mannheim Steamroller, was commissioned by the children of Ann and Robert H. Lurie to compose a piece for this occasion. "Up until this point in the program," said Halsted, "the carillon was played in the traditional manner with the clappers inside the bells being moved to sound the pitches. In the middle of this piece, the automatic part of the carillon, using hammers on the outside of some of the bells, joined in with a jaunty repeated melody."