Meet UR Carillon Society

Music on the Hopeman Carillon is played by students and professionals on a keyboard with hands and feet. The Westminster Chimes, in contrast, are programmed to play automatically. They play every fifteen minutes, 8am-10pm, 7 days a week, as determined by the President’s Office.

Anyone who has been to the University of Rochester has likely heard the sound of bell music wafting down from the top of landmark Rush Rhees tower. Bells have rung since 1930, and since 1979, performers around the globe have joined the Carillon Society for a Summer Concert Series in July thanks to the patronage of Andrew Stalder.

The Bellman Society, formed in 1930, evolved into the present-day UR Carillon Society in 1973.  The Carillon Society is a mix of students, alumni, faculty and community members sponsored by the Arthur Satz Music Department. During the academic year, the society offers concert performances, mentors students, aiding them in their professional and academic endeavors, and collaborates with community organizations.

Lesson instruction is available through the Arthur Satz Music Department on the River Campus for credit. Non-credit instruction is available through the  Eastman Community Music School.

Across the years, the Hopeman Carillon has been played by hundreds of students and professionals from across the globe as part of an international carillon tradition.


Carillon Society group photoVanessa Wish '23, Kayla Gunderson '23, Claire Janezic '22, Alex Johnson '19, and Charlie Zettek '73, members of the UR Carillon Society, pose outside of Rush Rhees Library at a recent concert.


Molly Killian is a senior from New York double majoring in Bioethics and English Literature.  She joined freshman year because it seemed like something she had never done before, and has continued to study the carillon because she loves playing it! She also loves arranging music for the carillon.  She has studied carillon for 2 years (technically 3 but one was spent at home due to the pandemic).  Molly's musical background includes viola, violin, and piano lessons.  Outside of the carillon tower, Molly enjoys figure skating and art.  You may find her on campus in the Q&I area within Rush Rhees Library. 



Valerie Battista playing the carillon

Valerie Battista is a senior from Maryland double majoring in computer science and music. She has loved singing in choir and playing the piano since elementary school, and after hearing the carillon ringing across campus throughout her first semester of college, she knew she wanted a chance to play the instrument herself. She started taking lessons the following spring, and this will be her sixth semester playing the carillon. When she's not up in the carillon tower, Valerie enjoys singing with the Chamber Singers and playing board games with her friends.


Recent Carillon Society Accomplishments

  • Kayla Gunderson successfully passed her Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) Carillonneur exam during the 2022 Chicago Congress. 
  • Claire Janezic ’22, was awarded the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) Fellowship 2022-2023 to study at the Royal ‘Jef Denyn' Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium. She successfully passed her GCNA Carillonneur exam in 2021. 
  • Alexander Johnson ’19, first place winner Queen Fabiola Contest, Belgium, an international standard of excellence. Fulbrightand Belgian American Educational Fellowship winner to study carillon in Mechlin, Belgium.  First place winner of Rochester Carillon Composition Award 2019. GCNA exam approved 2017, first from UR in 30 years.  Alex has published works available at the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America as well as the American Carillon Music Editions
  • Hanzhi Zhang was the first place winner of the Rochester Carillon Composition in 2018.
  • Charlie Zettek '72 has published works available at the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America
  • David Marshall '19 collaborated with Stephen Roessner in 2018 to present research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research titled How Bronze and Iron Metals Impact the Overtones of Carillon Bells.  Contact Doris Aman for further information.

Carillon in the News

  • “Piano is a more individual experience,” sophomore Kayla Gunderson said. “[Carillon] is more collaborative. Last year before COVID […] A group of three students and Doris would go up and play together and learn from each other.”  -Kayla Gunderson
  • “It’s [song in the concert, I Vow to Thee, My Country] emphasizing people’s dedication to their country, especially frontline workers in the pandemic, and memorializing what they’ve done,” -Vanessa Wish
  • “Okay fine, it’s just a wooden box…well it’s suspended so that you can’t see or hear the bells. We use speakers to hear them.” -Hannah Gallagher
  • “We wanted to do something for kids,” Pulsinelli said. “We thought it would be a good idea for a younger audience to hear what this is.” -Gabryella Pulsinelli
  • “The more experienced players help the novices, or ‘Paduans’ as Han puts it, ‘get up and running.” -Xin Xu
  • “This carillon belongs to undergrads,” she [Ng] said. “My main goal is to establish a self-perpetuating student guild.”  -Tiffany Ng
  • “I decided to change it (Westminster Quarters) because I felt the campus deserves its own chime tune…” -Daniel Harrison
  • “I used to do ‘King of Pain’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ when I first started.  I mostly stick to classical these days.” -Alan Rakov
  • How does one learn how to play?  You find someone in the Carillon Society to teach you.’” -Laurie Jaeger
  • David Caldwell thought “playing the instrument would be a challenging thing to do.  I underestimated the challenge.” -David Caldwell
  • “We received a letter from a nursing home across the river asking if we could amplify the concerts so they could hear them better.” -David Caldwell
  • James Fackenthal '83 - July Summer Concert Series, 2018
  • Janet Tebbel - Eastman graduate, First Carillon Concert for Tebbel
  • “It’s really an amazing instrument to play.”–Carolyn Birmingham


Collaborations with Rush Rhees Library


UR Land Acknowledgment:   

We would like to acknowledge with respect the Seneca Nation, known as the “Great Hill People” and “Keepers of the Western Door” of the Haudenosaunee. We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers on whose ancestral lands the University of Rochester currently resides in Rochester, New York. As we come together, we want to honor the many lives tragically taken too soon in recent events, by acknowledging the need for a commitment to constant action and attention surrounding the systemic issues that continue to impact each of us, to this day. 


Dr. Joanne Shenandoah (1957-2021)  

Thank you for your encouragement and help to UR Carillon Society.