MSU Carillon

One of the most recognizable sounds of MSU comes from the carillon housed in Beaumont Tower, which is located next to the MSU Museum on West Circle Drive.

The carillon, a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of carillon bells, was developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the area of Europe that is now Holland, Belgium, and northern France. The MSU carillon features 49 bells and is capable of playing the full range of literature composed for the instrument. The first ten bells were installed in Beaumont Tower in 1928. Thirteen additional bells were added in 1935 to make the instrument a carillon. Both the carillon and the tower were renovated in 1996.

There are about 170 carillons in the United States, 13 of which are in Michigan.

2016 Muelder Summer Carillon Series

The MSU College of Music will present the 20th Annual Muelder Summer Carillon Series, on five consecutive Wednesday recitals beginning July 6 through August 3, at the MSU Beaumont Tower, each beginning at 6:00 p.m., rain or shine. Concerts are free and open to the public. Picnics welcome.

Schedule of performers:

  • July 6 – Tiffany Ng, University of Michigan
  • July 13 – Tin-Shi Tam, Iowa State University
  • July 20 – Ray McLellan, MSU Carillonneur
  • July 27 – Hylke Banning, The Netherlands
  • Aug 3 – Mathieu Polak, The Netherlands

The Summer Carillon Series was established in 1996 through the generosity of Dr. Milton Muelder whose career spanned more than 40 years at MSU. “People enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of an outdoor recital and you can’t get much better than the scenery MSU has to offer,” said MSU Carillonneur Ray McLellan. “All are welcome to attend and even bring along a picnic and spread out a blanket while they listen. It's a great opportunity for children to come to a recital, too, as they don't have to sit and be quiet all the time.”

Developed in the 15th and 16th centuries in Northern Europe, carillons were often installed in church towers, even in small villages and towns. Commonly, carillonneurs would play live music on holidays and market days. The MSU carillon, which is housed within the John W. Beaumont Memorial Tower, contains 49 bells capable of playing the full range of literature composed for the instrument. One of approximately 180 working carillons in North America, it is activated by a computer to sound Westminster Chimes every quarter hour.

Carillonneurs play music by striking wooden keys or batons using closed fists and by using their feet to depress foot pedals. Once the keys and pedals are depressed, wires move the metal clappers to strike the bells. A restoration of the tower took place in 1996, involving the carillon, clock, Westminster Chimes, and tower repairs.

All carillon recitals are free and open to the public. Beaumont Tower is located in the West Circle Drive oval area on the MSU campus. It is recommended that those attending park at the Stadium Lot #62. After each recital, the tower will be open for tours and a demonstration of the carillon. Click here for a map to Beaumont Tower.