BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Board of Trustees has approved a plan to relocate and renovate the IU Metz Carillon to the center of the IU Bloomington campus as an IU Bicentennial initiative.
When it was built in 1970 and dedicated by then IU President John Ryan in 1971, the Metz Carillon was an impressive musical instrument containing 61 bells, which allowed for a five-octave performance range, rare among carillons. But its present remote and impractical location -- with no space for comfortable audience seating -- meant it was rarely used for performances. Additionally, over its nearly 50 years, the present carillon tower has badly deteriorated due to weather and other factors.
By moving it to the center of campus adjoining the IU Arboretum, which is nestled between the Herman B Wells Library, the School of Public Health-Bloomington and other prominent university buildings, large audiences will once again be able to enjoy regular concerts and recitals on the instrument by the IU Jacobs School of Music.
The Jacobs School and the Bloomington campus will also revive the tradition of inviting distinguished carillonneurs from around the world to perform on the instrument. It will also be rebuilt with particular attention to performer safety and weather protection.
Carillons date back to medieval times, when they provided music at religious and other festivals as well as warnings in case of danger. Over several centuries, renowned composers have developed a large musical repertoire for the carillon.
There are about 600 carillons worldwide, with about 60 at universities and colleges in the U.S. As part of the relocation and renovation, the Metz Carillon will be upgraded with four new bells, bringing the total to 65 bells and making it a grand carillon, one of fewer than 30 in the world and one of only a handful nationwide. This, in turn, will make the instrument fully functional and capable of playing a substantial and important part of repertoire that it can't presently play.
"The upgrade and relocation of the Metz Carillon as part of IU's bicentennial celebration revitalizes and renews the Metz Foundation's original vision for the carillon that began during the IU sesquicentennial celebration in 1970," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "I am delighted that this superb instrument will once again become a central part of musical life on the IU campus. It will open up a whole new area of music where our students, faculty, staff and visitors will have a wonderful new opportunity to experience the renown of our talented Jacobs School of Music faculty and students."
The carillon is named for Arthur R. Metz, a successful doctor who served for many years as the personal physician to Philip Wrigley, head of the Wrigley Co., and to the Chicago Cubs. Throughout his life, he consistently supported IU, funding scholarships, contributing instruments to the Jacobs School of Music and serving as a member of the IU Foundation Board.
The original bells on the Metz Carillon were crafted by Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry in the Netherlands, the world's premier manufacturer of carillon bells. Each bell was inscribed with quotes about music from American and English authors.
"While the Metz Carillon has a commanding presence and proud history, it is an often overlooked and underappreciated treasure on our IU Bloomington campus, primarily because it is only rarely played," said IU Jacobs School of Music Dean Gwyn Richards. "The decision to move and restore this majestic instrument as part of IU's bicentennial celebration will ensure the revival of what has long been one of this campus's most beautiful and inspiring musical traditions, while providing students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests of the Jacobs School of Music an opportunity to experience the carillon in all of its grandness and amazing sound."
At the request of then-Chancellor Herman B Wells, who worked with Metz, the following quote was added to the largest bell in the carillon: "These carillons are a tribute to the memory of Dr. Arthur R. Metz, distinguished physician and student benefactor whose loyalty and dedication to his alma mater shall perpetually reverberate by means of this symbol throughout the campus he loved."
The relocation and renovation of the Metz Carillon will be funded by the Metz Foundation and other private sources.