In 1973, Ruth Baird Larabee made a donation to Texas Tech University to buy and install a carillon in memory of her parents. The Charles and Ruth Baird Memorial Carillon is located in the west tower of the administration building at the center of the Texas Tech campus. The beautiful music of the 36-bell instrument rang out over the campus during times of celebration and solemnity. Students, faculty, and staff, as well as visitors to the university, enjoyed the music for thirty years. The carillon became a one of our treasured Tech traditions.
The carillon was refurbished and extended in 2005, adding additional bells to make 3 ½ octaves. The bourdon (the largest bell) weighs approximately eight hundred pounds, and the smallest, only about eight pounds. 12 of the bells were cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England, 24 were cast by the Paccard Foundry in France, and the newest bells, by Meek & Watson Foundry in Ohio. The estimated value of this collection of bells today is $250,000.
According to The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, “A carillon is a musical instrument composed of at least 23 bells, arranged in chromatic sequence, so tuned as to produce concordant harmony when many bells are sounded together. It is played from a keyboard that allows expression through variation of touch.”
Every year since its inception, the Carol of Lights has featured carillon music. Additionally, each year on the Fourth of July at 1:00 p.m., the carillon is played in conjunction with the ceremonial ringing of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Summer Sunday evening concerts are another of the Tech traditions.
Information provided by Carolyn Kennedy.