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Alumna gift results in set of tower bells

Thanks to a UT graduate, the UT tower will have a full set of carillon bells by the end of August.

Work begins this week on what will be known as the Kniker Carillon, a gift of UT alumna Hedwig Thusnelda Kniker of San Antonio. Kniker, a 1917 geology graduate who died in 1985, willed the $134,626 necessary to build and install the system. UT Regents accepted the gift in June 1986.

The bell system will be the largest carillon in the state and one of the largest in the nation, said Robert Tindol, a UT News and Information Service spokesman. The additional 39 bells will push the total to 56, giving its player a wider selection of music. At least three octaves are required for a genuine carillon.

Tom Anderson, assistant director of the UT International Office, performs the repertoire of tunes from the tower three times a week and said he is pleased with improvements.

"I can play more music," he said. "Some songs I just absolutely can’t play on the present set-up because I don’t have the range." Most carillon music, he said, is written for three to four pour parts, beyond the range of the 17 bells currently available.

Anderson said listeners should not hear a difference in tonal quality, since the newly cast bells were checked against the sound of those to be replaced. The older bells will be repositioned, including the 7,350-pound bourdon, which rings hourly.

I.T. Verdin Company of Cincinati begins work in the tower Wednesday. The musical marking of each quarter-hour will stop temporarily for about two weeks while a team works to renovate and expand the system, and the regular 12:50 p.m. performance will be held up as well. The hourly bourdon may not be heard for a few days while it is being moved, Anderson said.

The revamping marks the first major improvement on the bell tower in its 51-year history. The difference in the new system will not be visible outside the tower, Tindol said.

Daily Texan. July 29, 1987.
Author: Michael Gail Smith

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3 May 1999
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