The University of Washington will dedicate a 47-bell carillon in a ceremony Thursday.
If you’re on the University of Washington campus Thursday and you’re near Red Square around 11:15 a.m. or 6:30 p.m., pause to listen for the university’s newest sound — a carillon located atop Kane Hall.
The instrument, made up of 47 bells, will be played twice Thursday as part of a dedication ceremony. Listeners will be able to hear “Bow Down to Washington,” the school’s fight song, along with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and several other pieces.
The $1.1 million instrument is the gift of the Gordon Stuart Peek Foundation. Peek, 92, an alumnus and former UW history teacher, is a fan of bell music — he also gave the school a set of bells located on top of Gerberding Hall, across from Kane Hall on the other side of Red Square.
The carillon is played using an organ-like keyboard. It spans four octaves, with the smallest bells about the size of a flower pot and the largest bells up to 5 feet across and weighing more than 1,500 pounds. On Thursday, the instrument will be played by carillonneur Wesley Arai.
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The instrument was installed last fall in a Kane Hall ventilation shaft.
Bells have long rung out on the UW campus. A dozen bells were given to the school in 1912 by the Blethen family, and hung from a converted water tower until fire destroyed them in 1949. Peek’s grandfather used to take Peek, then a boy of 5, to listen to those bells. In 2008, he donated the Gerberding bells to bring back the sound to campus.
The carillon bells were cast by the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in the Netherlands. It is the first carillon in Western Washington, but not the first in the state — there’s a carillon at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane.
The Gerberding Hall bells are typically played on most weekends, and after some football games. The university is still working on a schedule of performances for the new carillon.