Bells Ring On
Carillon concerts continue amidst pandemic.
by Stephanie Sorter
Published in July, 2020
U-M SMTD's Summer Carillon Series, a popular free outdoor concert series that Ann Arborites have been enjoying for decades, has never felt more relevant. Every Monday from July 6 to August 10, masked concert goers can gather around one of the university's bell towers to listen to featured professional and student carillonists from near and far. Both Ingalls Mall and Gerstacker Grove, on Central and North Campus respectively, allow for ample physical distancing with picnic blankets scattered across the wide lawns. The performances highlight a variety of topical themes, like U-M professor Tiffany Ng's tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement on July 13 with songs such as Harry Dixon Loes' spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" and Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."
U-M economics PhD candidate Michelle Lam, who performed a program on July 20 honoring the university's class of 2020, has helped run the Summer Carillon Series for the past three years. Despite the pandemic, Lam says, the concerts have continued mostly without change as "outdoors has always been the best place to listen to the carillon." This year's programs are posted online instead of distributed on paper copies, and after-show tours of each bell tower are canceled. Surprisingly, only one carillonist canceled their travel plans, postponing their performance. "We are extremely grateful that the carillon's unique position physically and sonically allows us to hold an in-person concert series," says Lam.
The last two concerts of the summer are on August 3 and 10 at 7 p.m. at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus. Next week's performance will be by Grand Valley State University Carillonist Julianne Vanden Wyngaard, and the final concert of the year will be performed by Yale student Paul Stelben.
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