The Robert and Ann Lurie Carillon was built in 1996 on the university’s North Campus. A gift to the School of Engineering from the Robert and Ann Lurie Family Foundation, it contains 60 bells, with the lowest bell (bourdon) weighing 6 tons. The Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry of Asten, The Netherlands, cast the bells. The tower was built to the design of Charles Moore (AB 1947, Hon Arch Ph.D. 1992) and Arthur Anderson.
Visitors may take the elevator to the second floor to see the largest bells, and the spiral staircase or elevator to the third floor to visit the keyboard room. The carillonist is available to answer questions in between music selections. Large groups are urged to contact University Carillonist Tiffany Ng at least two weeks in advance of a visit.
A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of bells arranged in a chromatic series and played from a keyboard that permits control of expression through variations of touch. A carillon bell is a cast bronze cup-shaped bell whose overtones are in such harmonious relationship to each other as to permit multiple bells to be sounded together.
The carillon developed in the area of Europe that is now the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. There are over 180 carillons in North America, and new ones are installed every year.
The carillon keyboard, located in a small room at the center of the bell chamber, is connected to the bells via a system of wires, levers, and springs. To play the bells, the carillonist uses loosely-closed fists to push down wooden keys, which are arranged like the keys of a piano keyboard. The lowest bells may also be played from a pedal keyboard. No electricity is required for the functioning of this system.