Sweet carillon

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By Emma Prestwich

In the basement of Kerr Hall West, behind a locked door is the culprit who rings the stately bells heard last week on campus during convocation.

The instrument you hear is called a carillon, a series of 23 bells that are hooked up to the speakers in the Kerr Hall clock tower. But Ryerson’s isn’t a real carillon, just a double keyboard that replicates the sound of the bells, much like an electric doorbell. When the player presses a key, a small hammer whacks a metal rod — one for each note.

The player has to haul the carillon up from the basement and sit at the top of the Kerr Hall West stairwell whenever Ryerson students graduate.

Elizabeth Muir, a retired music teacher, was hired as a replacement for Wayne “ding-a-ling” Detcher, who had been playing the carillon every convocation for the past 45 years. Detcher, a Ryerson alumnus and long-time CCS employee, was forced to take a break from playing last fall because of health problems.

Muir, who played the carillon for the three convocation ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, said Ryerson only gives her an honorarium, but that she does it for the students. “I’m very impressed by [Ryerson’s] convocation ceremony — all those proud graduates walking in blue.”

But some students weren’t so enthusiastic. Joe Wevers, a firstyear engineering student, said he had no idea the bells existed and doesn’t appreciate them.

“I thought whoever was playing them needed some work,” he said. Muir says the tunes are so plodding because the instrument can only play one note at a time.

Photo: Chelsea Pottage

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