Performances & Events


“bellvoix” World Premiere by Julie Zhu, carillon

April 3, 2024 | 12:00 pm

Burton Memorial Tower
881 N University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free - no tickets required

bellvoix is a site-specific performance at U-M’s Burton Memorial Tower. Instead of broadcasting songs, the carillon has a speaking voice. Artist and performer Julie Zhu talks through a convolution of her voice and bell sounds to passersby, surprising them with specific details surveilled from the tower, goading them into conversation.

When a carillon cyborg finally acquires language, what will she say? How might listeners – who don’t have a choice whether to listen – react to the authority of a public musical instrument who necessarily has opinions? bellvoix makes obvious the specific social contract between the carillon and the community it serves, woos, or antagonizes. Who is the carillon? And why do we bell?

This world premiere of “bellvoix” (2023) by Julie Zhu, President’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor (performing arts technology), is a 30 minute performance. It is co-sponsored by the U-M Arts Initiative and part of the series “XR/XF: Extended Realities/Extended Feminisms” with the Digital Studies Institute.

The Charles Baird Carillon, an instrument of 53 bronze bells, is located inside the Burton Memorial Tower. The largest bell, which strikes the hour, weighs 12 tons, while the smallest bell, 4½ octaves above, weighs just 15 pounds.

Thirty-minute recitals are performed on the Charles Baird Carillon at noon every weekday that classes are in session, followed by visitor Q&A with the carillonist. The bell chamber may be accessed via a combination of elevator and stairs. Take the elevator to the highest floor possible (floor 8), and then climb two flights of stairs (39 steps) to the bell chamber (floor 10). Earplugs are available from the carillonist upon request. Be prepared to walk on ice and snow in the bell chamber during winter. Built in 1936, the Charles Baird Carillon is not ADA accessible. Visitors with mobility concerns are invited to visit the Lurie Carillon:

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