In March of 1914, Leon J. Richardson of the Latin department and Chairman of the Committee on Chimes, wrote to the John Taylor Bellfoundry to inquire about procuring bells for the University. It was decided that twelve bells would be cast to be played from a large keyboard with twelve wooden pump-handles. The largest bell weighed 4118 pounds and struck the C below middle C. It bears an inscription written by Dr. Issac Flagg, professor of Greek:
We ring, we chime, we toll,
Lend ye the silent part
Some answer in the heart,
Some echo in the soul.
All twelve original bells bear the inscription "Gift of Jane K. Sather 1914." They were hung in a circle from the ornate ceiling of the observation level of Sather Tower.
Because of delays caused by World War I, the bells were finally shipped on the English Ship Senator, arriving in San Francisco in April of 1917. They were installed in Sather Tower by W.T. "Chuffy" Billinghurst from October 12-18, 1917 using a crane left over from the construction of the Tower. The crane remained in place on the 10th level of the tower until extensive tower renovation in 2003.
The bells were first played on November 3, 1917 at 2 pm by George Williams Clark, a senior from Los Angeles. After the first selection was played, local factories with bells or whistles sounded them for several minutes in response. (As an interesting historical note, November 3, 1997 was the date of the death of Ronald Barnes, the first University Carillonist.) George Clark was drafted a mere five weeks after he became the first University Chimesmaster. He was succeeded by Glen Haydon, who finished out the 1917-1918 school year. Henry Safford King was then appointed chimesmaster and served until 1926. He was followed by Charles B. Weikel (1926-1938), John Milton Noyes (1938-1973) and Frank Pilling (1973-1982).
The most remarkable bell player during the chime years was Margaret Murdock, who played the chime from 1923-1982, fifty-nine years of devoted service. The stairs on the west side of Sather Tower were dedicated to Ms Murdock at a celebration honoring her years of exceptional service to the university.
From the outset, it was clear that there were not enough bells to play many songs, including the Star-Spangled Banner. Over the next decades there was some correspondence, but it was not until 1976 that Howard Patrick, president of the Class of 1928, asked his fellow classmate Robert "Skinny" Johnson to investigate a fiftieth anniversary gift to the University. Johnson presented the idea of additional bells to the Class of 1928, and was met with enthusiastic response. The Class of 1928, always active in University affairs, set the goal at $47,000. Within a very short time they raised $150,000. They decided to enlarge the chime into a full concert carillon, incorporating the original bells into the new instrument.
The original chime of twelve bells was cast in 1915 by the Taylor Company of Loughborough, England, and installed two years later. This original chime was transformed into a full carillon by the generous 50th Anniversary Gift to the University by the Class of 1928. These additional thirty-six bells were cast by the Paccard Foundry of Annecy, France.
In 1983, Evelyn and Jerry Chambers added thirteen more Paccard bells, making the carillon a sixty-one bell, concert pitch instrument, fully chromatic from low G to the g five octaves above. The transmission was installed by the I.T. Verdin company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The playing keyboard was designed and built by Richard P. Strauss.
The Chambers' gift also provides for a Carillon Festival to be held every fifth anniversary year of the Class of 1928 in its honor, a campanology library, practice rooms and practice keyboards, and an endowed position for the University Carillonist.
|Ronald Barnes 1982-1995||Geert D'hollander 1997-1999||Jeff Davis 2000- present|