Friday, November 6, 2009
Music to my Ears
To paraphrase William Shakespeare,“that which we call a bell by any other name would sound as sweet.”
San Diego State’s campanile, formally known as the Fletcher Symphonic Carillon, peals every quarter hour across campus, delighting listeners with melodies both familiar and original. Housed in Hardy Memorial Tower, the carillon is also a sensory feature of major campus activities, including commencement and homecoming.
The SDSU Retirement Association recently donated funds for an expansion of the carillon. Its $25,000 gift will pay for the purchase nd installation in July of 100 additional bells, for a total of 244.
“The SDSU Retirement Association has great respect for what the carillon represents,” said Kathie Ross, current president. “All of our members have come to value the carillon over time. It’s something that isn’t specific to a department or division. It belongs to the campus.”
The carillon holds a special place in SDSU history. A donation of 25 chimes from Sen. and Mrs. Ed Fletcher in 1946 commemorated San Diego State College’s 50th anniversary and served as a memorial to Aztecs killed in action. Twice in the next 40 years, the Ed and Mary Fletcher Foundation, through Associated Students, expanded the installation. In 1968, it became a carillon and in 1985, a digital chronobell.
Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Lipinsky’s gift in 1992 extended the reach of the Fletcher Carillon to the southeast corner of campus via remote speakers and amplifiers in Lipinsky Tower. More than 100 bells were added in 2001 and 2003.
“The Retirement Association’s gift enables us to complete the carillon expansion as it was designed in 1985,” said Terry O’Donnell, emeritus professor in the School of Music. SDSU’s resident carillonneur since 1963, O’Donnell has written dozens of original songs for the bells. “Once the installation is complete,” he said, “we will realize the full potential of the instrument. Listeners will hear the carillon as never before.”