Yale Bulletin and Calendar

May 19, 2006|Volume 34, Number 29|Three-Week Issue















When the original 10 bells of the now-54-bell Harkness Tower carillon were first installed they could be heard four miles away and shattered windows on campus. The exhibit "Inside Harkness Tower" honors the carillon's 40th anniversary.

Exhibits look back at 40 years
of chiming bells and more

KExhibitions at Yale's libraries cast spotlights on a music-making campus landmark, the history of human communication, alumni musings and evolving theories about the "cycle of life."

All the displays are free and open to the public.

"Inside Harkness Tower"

The bells that ring out from one of New Haven's most recognizable landmarks is the focus of "Inside Harkness Tower: A History of Chime and Carillon Music at Yale," a new exhibit on view May 19-July 15 in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library and in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, both located at 120 High St.

Twice daily, at 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., passersby are treated to a concert of music emanating from the 54 bells housed inside the intricate neo-gothic spires of Harkness Tower. With a combined weight of 43 tons, these bells comprise the Yale Memorial Carillon.

When Harkness Tower was completed in 1921, it loomed 216 feet high -- one foot for each year between Yale's founding in 1701 and the beginning of the tower's construction. The belfry, however, was completely empty. To fill this void, the John Taylor Bellfoundry of Loughborough, England, cast 10 bells weighing a total of 23 tons, which were installed in 1922 and christened as the Harkness Memorial Chimes. The initial adjustments proved disastrous, however; the bells produced a harsh metal clang that could be heard four miles away and that shattered several windows in Branford College. By positioning the clappers closer to the rims of the bells, Taylor eventually achieved the rich, resonant tone (carrying only three-quarters of a mile) for which the bells are still known today.

Samuel H. Smith, Yale curator of organs, was the chimes' original bellringer. He held the job until 1946, when he passed it on to a Yale student, Elliott Kone '49. To ensure that the rigorous schedule of four rings per day (morning chapel, midday, vespers and curfew) would endure after his graduation, Kone founded the self-perpetuating, student-run Yale Guild of Bellringers in 1949.

In 1964, philanthropist Florence S. Marcy Crofut donated an additional 44 bells. These were again commissioned from the Taylor foundry, which had the difficult task of matching the pitch and timbre of the new bells to the original ones. The resulting 54-bell carillon was named the "Yale Memorial Carillon."

Today, the rechristened Yale Guild of Carillonneurs remains completely student-run, despite the considerable interest the new instrument aroused among professional carillonneurs around the world, and is solely responsible for playing the carillon. Guild members teach incoming students the basics of the instrument and then audition them for membership. Since the arrival of the new instrument, the guild has become increasingly involved in the carillon world, both bringing renowned artists to Yale for concert series and visiting famous carillons and carillonneurs around the world.

In 1969, three years after the inauguration of the carillon, the guild hosted the annual Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA). This June, the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs is hosting a GCNA Congress for the second time. In honor of the congress and of the 40th anniversary of the Yale Memorial Carillon, this exhibit presents a look at all of the aspects of Harkness Tower-- its structure, its instrument and its guild.

The materials on display -- which include a variety of photographs, blueprints, posters, correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles and music (including the manuscript of a composition the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs commissioned from Virgil Thomson, one of the leading American composers of the 20th century) -- are from the collections of the Music Library and from Manuscripts and Archives.

This image is from The Studio: An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art, which debuted in 1993. It is part of the exhibit "A Timeline of the Human Record."

"A Timeline of the Human Record"

A new exhibit now on display in Sterling Memorial Library traces the evolution of media used by humans to record and disseminate information -- from clay tablets to papyrus scrolls, the codex, handwritten manuscripts, magazines, postcards and modern media.

"A Timeline of the Human Record" provides a glimpse into the holdings of Yale's Special Collections, which contain nearly every type of media produced by humankind.

Featured in the exhibit are items dating from circa 3300 B.C.E. to the 21st century, including clay tablets and scrolls from the Babylonian Collection, a rubbing of an 8th-century Chinese Nestorian monument and early printed Bibles from the Divinity Library. It also includes Gregorian chant and early printed music from the archives of the Music Library as well as incunabula and broadsides from the Medical Historical Library.

Other items on view include an early playbill, postcards, punch cards and other genres of material from the Manuscripts and Archives Department, a radio script, a graphic novel, artist books from the Arts Library, sound recording devices from the Historical Sound Recordings collection, an almanac from the Franklin Collection and an art magazine with innovative illustrations from the Yale Center for British Art.

The exhibit will be on display until July 22. For more information, visit the Yale Special Collections website at www.library.yale.edu/special_collections.

50th Reunion Exhibit

"Comment and Commitment," the latest of the exhibitions celebrating the 50th reunion of a Yale College class, is now on display in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library.

The display showcases the published work of 90 members of the Class of 1956, including the works of 10 wives. The subject matter varies from classic American song to medicine, education reform and more.

Among the works are selected speeches by Senator James Jeffords of Vermont, poetry by David Slavitt, literary history by Frederick Brown, and social commentary by Lewis Lapham. An essay by John Fitz Gibbon titled "Pandora's Box" is available as a handout. In the essay, Fitz Gibbon remembers fondly an insight he gained during an art history lecture by visiting Princeton professor Erwin Panofsky.

The exhibit will be on view until the second week of June.

"The Cycle of Life"

A multifaceted exhibit titled "The Cycle of Life: A History of Experimental Ecology, 1750-2000" is currently on view in several of Yale's libraries.

The exhibit reflects on the long history of the concept of the "cycle of life" in its multiple dimensions: theological, musical, medical and scientific.

It includes selected books and other materials reflecting on how a series of scientists transformed a holistic view of nature into increasingly sophisticated laboratory investigations. It explores how the "cycle of life" migrated from late-18th century Naturphilosophie to organic chemistry in the 1830s, to microbiology in the mid-19th century and to ecosystem ecology, soil microbiology and the Gaia concept in the 20th century.

The exhibit is currently on view in several locations: Sterling Memorial Library nave (case near the Starr Reference Room) until May 31; the Kline Science Library, 219 Prospect St., until June 15; Kline Geology Library, 210 Prospect St., until June 30; and the Graves Forestry and Environmental Library, 205 Prospect St., until June 30.

All the exhibits are archived digitally at www.cycle-of-life.net, where an interactive map of the exhibit is available.

For information on the Yale University Library, including its hours of service and digitized versions of some of its unique collections, visit www.library.yale.edu.


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Exhibits look back at 40 years of chiming bells and more

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Campus Notes

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