WUFT News

UF’s Century Tower Carillon, University Auditorium Organ Share Tradition, History

By on November 29th, 2013

Although those who have been to the University of Florida may be familiar with much of the campus, sometimes the most recognizable places tend to be taken for granted.

Century Tower and University Auditorium, both of which house UF’s most famous musical instruments, are among those places.

Michelle Klima, a UF student, has an uncommon course load: She plays the massive University Auditorium organ.

Klima said the organ, situated inside of one of the most recognizable buildings on campus, has a storied past itself.

UF student MIchelle Klima plays the University Auditorium organ.

UF student Michelle Klima plays the University Auditorium organ.

“This organ was originally installed in 1925 by the E.M. Skinner Organ Company, was redone from 1965-1970 by the Aeolian-Skinner Company, and then redone twice in 1980 and 1993 by the Moller Organ Company,” she said. “So you’ve definitely seen an evolution from American classic style of organ building here.

The organ contains 99 ranks and more than 5,000 pipes. Those pipes range from the length of a pencil, to those 16 feet tall. It can mimic the sounds of any instrument in an orchestra, including bassoons, flutes and clarinets.

Klima said the organ’s range of pipes and sounds give the instrument a certain awe factor.

“Along the lines of the specifications, the organ just has a natural ability to mimic things in the orchestra,” she said. “Mozart, I believe, was the person to deem it the ‘King of Instruments.’ So it really encompasses a lot of musical features that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Laura Ellis, UF associate professor of music, said the organ works in harmony with the auditorium to create a spectacular aura.

“It’s just an impressive space, and I think when you walk in there you maybe stand a little bit taller when you walk in,” she said. “It feels good, particularly when you think of all of the wonderful artists and all of the wonderful speakers. It’s an important place.”

For Klima, the privilege to play the University Auditorium organ is a rite of passage and said it gives her a special connection to her predecessors.

“Just knowing the history and wanting to know about the history, I’ve tried to take over some historical research on the organ, just because it is… our heritage,” she said. “I can be proud to say that I’ve played this organ and I was here and I’ve made my mark. ”

Just a few yards away from the home of the organ, the carillon chimes each quarter of the hour, playing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The tune that is played, “Florida Chimes,” was written by Dr. Budd Udell, a former chair of the Department of Music at UF.

When Century Tower was built in 1956, there was no money to buy bells for the carillon. An electronic bell system was used until it finally broke down in 1975. It was replaced in 1976 by a 49 bell set.

A gift in 2002 allowed for 12 additional bells, completing the 61 bell ensemble that can be heard today.

University of Florida music professor Laura Ellis plays the Century Tower carillon bells.

University of Florida music professor Laura Ellis plays the Century Tower carillon bells.

Ellis said she and her students relish the opportunity to take part in a rich UF tradition.

“It’s a privilege when you get to come up here and you get to be there, and I think every carillonneur feels the same way — that it’s a privilege every time you get to climb these stairs and play the instrument,” she said. “It’s the visual centerpiece of campus … so I like to think about how important that is in what we do in the tower, that we really are representing, and in the auditorium, representing the importance of what goes on on campus.”


This entry was posted in University of Florida and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in University of Florida

Northwestern University Athletes Can Unionize; SEC Disagrees

Florida districts consider the possibility of a domino effect in Chicago’s decision to allow Northwestern student-athletes to unionize.


University of Florida Names Interim Law Dean

Professor George L. Dawson was named the UF Levin College of Law’s interim dean today after the search for the new dean had ended.


Students Run Colored in Orange and Blue

Clouds of orange and blue cornstarch rained down on more than 1,000 University of Florida students and some members of the Gainesville community as they ran through Fraternity Row, leaving Flavet Field behind them. The runners participated in the second annual [...]


University of Florida to Remove ‘Bambooville’

Jon Anderson’s “Bambooville” will be removed from the University of Florida this week. The project is behind Carr Hall, which is a designated conservation area.


“Big Max,” Sister Sculpture To French Fries Piece, Installed At Harn

John Raymond Henry’s “Big Max” is joining “Alachua” on the University of Florida campus.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments