Iowa State Celebration Features New Mobile Carillon

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AMES, Iowa -- This year marks the 120th year for the Iowa State Campanile and 25 years for Tin-Shi Tam as ISU's carillonneur. A celebration is also planned to mark 50 years of Stephens Auditorium.

Homecoming weekend there will be a concert on Sunday to mark these milestones and welcome a new addition to the ISU music department.

“We are putting together the mobile Campanile. It’s 27 bells and a 1/5 scale of their carillon,” said Joshua Meeks of Meeks, Watson and Company from Ohio, which is building a new small-scale Campanile. “The largest bell is roughly 150 pounds. The smallest bell is going to be around 11 or 12 pounds.”

The model Campanile will be hauled by truck around Iowa or wherever it is needed to be. ISU engineering students have developed an electronic interface, so even those without any musical ability can play the small carillon. The interface will work like the Guitar Hero video game.

Engineering students also designed a heavy-duty cart to move the two-ton instrument into a truck to be transported in and out of concert halls.

Tam has enjoyed her 25 years as the carillonneur at ISU.

“I come up here and play the Stanton Memorial Carillon every weekday, and I also teach Iowa State students how to play this instrument,” said Tam.

She plays pieces written for the carillon as well as arrangements of popular music.

Sunday at 3 p.m. there will be a concert at Stephens Auditorium featuring the ISU Campanile playing a piece with the ISU Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra will connect with the Campanile, which stands about a half mile away, via internet connection and software designed for remote musical performances. The new mobile Campanile will also be unveiled and played for the first time.

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