by PAUL BICKEY
For 47 years, Indiana University’s Metz Carillon rang from the campus’ highest point, near the intersection of North Jordan Avenue and East 17th Street. Built in 1970 for IU’s sesquicentennial and named after Arthur R. Metz, a 1909 IU alumnus, Chicago surgeon, and IU benefactor, the deteriorated 91-foot, 61- bell tower sounded its swan song in 2017.
But IU would soon hear the familiar sound again. On January 20, 2020, the $7 million Arthur R. Metz Bicentennial Grand Carillon, funded by the Metz Foundation and private donors, debuted at its home in the Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox Arboretum.
The original bells were refurbished and four new ones were added, extending the instrument’s range enough to earn it grand status. (There are 27 grand carillons worldwide.) The bronze bells range in mouth diameter from 6 inches to 7 feet. The largest weighs 12,000 pounds;
all 65 weigh a combined 88,000 pounds.
The new 128-foot tower features six vertical Indiana limestone piers surrounding a glass-enclosed spiral staircase leading to a playing cabin and microclassroom 51 feet above ground.
In the cabin, carillonneurs sit at a console and push wooden batons (“keys”) with their hands and feet. The batons are connected to bell clappers. “All you need to play the carillon is a desire to perform for the public —people can hear you for miles around—and a fearlessness of heights and stairs,” says Lynnli Wang, an IU Jacobs School of Music graduate student of organ performance and associate instructor of carillon.
Wang appeared on national TV playing the Metz Grand during March Madness in 2021.
In response to receiving the new instrument, the Jacobs School’s organ department developed an academic carillon program of four courses and added Wang’s position. “The teaching position ensures that the art of playing the world’s largest instrument doesn’t die on our watch,” says Janette Fishell, Jacobs School professor and chair of the organ department. The program hosts guest-artist weekends featuring masterclasses and performances by world-renowned carillonneurs, and its students and guests perform recitals on most Saturdays from noon to 12:45 p.m.
Says Fishell, “We invite you to experience the Metz firsthand—bring your coffee, a blanket, and your dog almost any Saturday to see what heavy metal music is really all about.”