Last week, I had the pleasure, paranoia and exuberance assocated with a midday carillon performance high above the University of Denver‘s campus. Ninety-Five steps up the winding tower staircase that already starts on the 4th floor puts you on top of the world. Metallic clicks with each foot-drop up the staircase add to the suspense of what’s on top.
I can tell you straight up, if you have any trepidation with heights, force yourself past the staircase. Soon, you will be shrouded at the top and into the concert room. Before you, the carillon keyboard resides with 360º views and sounds of delight. It will be worth overcoming your paranoia of heights. The experience is something you can’t describe other than, “You have to be there”.
At 215 feet, the Ritchie Center’s gold-capped Williams Tower is visible from more than a mile away. Clearly a beacon for a campus that’s a hub of activity for the entire community.
On this particular day, Carolyn Bolden was my escort, tour guide and my carillonneur. We met on the Ritchie Center steps just below the Williams Tower. We hopped on the elevator to the 4th floor, walked past the athletic offices through the Gottesfeld Room and at once one is taken aback by the tower room. A vertical history of communication as we know it. But that’s another story!
Up the tower steps to the top. I have to admit, this could be intimidating to the uninitiated. The tower housesthe Williams Carillon,
a set of 65 chromatically tuned bronze bells, the largest of which weighs about six tons. The carillon chimes on the hour, helping students across campus keep track of the day. Every December, the University carillonneur treats the campus community to a holiday concert.
One this particular day, I was going to get a 15 minute private concert of my own from Carolyn. She has such enthusiasm for the instrument, such a burning desire to master it and such a generosity of spirit, I was immediately caught up in the moment. The view, the location, the bells, the music, I can’t impress upon you how much fun this was, but also mesmerizing at the same time. The music is almost hypnotic. It is saying, “take a moment and listen”. Not unlike take time to “smell the roses”, in this instance, it offers a rhythmic reprieve from the day’s activities.
Watching a Carilloneur, hearing the sounds, seeing the sites and taking time out from a busy day. This is living life as it was meant to be lived. Thank You Carolyn!