Jeff Davis has been University Carillonist at UC Berkeley since 2000. He instructs carillon at the school and gives performances throughout Europe and North America. He also composes varied works for other instruments.
Concerts are at 7:50am, 12 noon, and 6pm for 10 minutes from Monday to Saturday. We also play an hour-long recital on Sundays at 2pm, with programs available in front of the tower. Traditional carillon music includes folk tunes, hymns, and impressionist pieces.
Follow us on social media for updates about our performances and fun facts about the carillon.
Berkeley's carillon was originally a 12-bell chime from the Taylor bellfoundry in 1917. It was expanded with Paccard bells in 1978 by the Class of 1928 (thus renaming the instrument 'Class of 1928 Carillon'). It now has sixty-one (61) bells with a keyboard console designed by Richard Strauss, due to a generous donation by Jerry and Evelyn Chambers. The Chambers donation also endows a full-time University Carillonist position, who manages daily recitals and teaches carillon on campus. Jeff Davis is the third such Carillonist, after Ronald Barnes and Geert D'hollander. Teaching and practice time is held inside Sather Tower, on a practice console (that rings metal pipes instead of large bells).
During the school year, there is a weekly recital schedule. The carillon is played at 7:50am, 12 noon, and 6pm for ten minutes from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, a one-hour concert is scheduled, with programs available at the front door of the tower. On Friday and Saturday evenings until 7pm, carillon students are practicing, working out last kinks in their performances. Sather Tower is typically open to the public during the day (except for Sunday concerts), and you can watch the noon recitalists from the observation deck.
If you'd like to know what's playing or what's been played, please email at email@example.com.
You can read a short history of the carillon and carillon music below.
The carillon’s origin is intertwined with that of the clock. In fact, early words for clock --- "clocca", "cloche", "klok", "glocke" --- all translate to "bell". Most of this story takes place in what was "The Low Countries" --- including Northern France (F), present-day Netherlands (N), and Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (B).
Almost all early Dutch music for bells was written for automatic playing. City carillonneurs in present-day Belgium (B) and the Netherlands (N) mostly improvised during performances, although they apprenticed younger players before retiring.
The clergyman A.B. Simpson was frustrated with the bell sounds in England (E), where he lived. He opened correspondence with the Taylor bellfoundry (E) in 1894, and soon published two public articles on bell tuning.
As in Europe, American bell instruments began as "chimes", where sets of 8-15 bells are approximately tuned to the diatonic series (like the c-major scale), with a few extra bells (like b-flat and f-sharp) to increase its range. Unlike city-center European chimes, many North American instruments were installed in public parks and in universities, encouraging a new style of carillon music.
Carillon composition has been revitalized over the past fifty years, and takes different roles in Europe and in North America. Professional societies are established in each region, and annual congresses and festivals on bells are common throughout the world.
This text is primarily summarized from Appendix A of John Gouwens' "Playing the Carillon: An Introductory Method", titled "A Succinct History of the Carillon and its Music". Mr. Gouwens' book is available for purchase through the GCNA at this link.
The Berkeley Carillon Guild is a student group of UC Berkeley. We are the carillon students of Jeff Davis, University Carillonist. In other words, we 'ring the bells' in Sather Tower. There are roughly a dozen students, with about equal numbers of undergraduate and post-graduate students.
This organization enables us to purchase music, organize special carillon concerts in Berkeley, and tour and perform at other carillons. We focus on writing and performing high-quality music for the instrument. We hope to raise general awareness about carillon through a student-run class (called a "DeCal") on the bells. (Learn more about that here.)
Our current constitution is available at this link.
Hi! I'm Michela.
Erika is hip and super smart!
Tim has a wonderful personality.
Yvette knows a lot about languages!
Leslie is one of the most chill people out there!
Sylvia is really cool!
Sophia is new but really likes it so far!
Robby is really fun to be around.
Miles loves the view from the top of the tower.
Lea is really excited about carillon!
Did you once play the carillon at Berkeley? We're working on an alumni list --- please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're new to the carillon, you might have trouble finding accessible music. We hope that these lists will satisfy and indulge the casual and professional listener.
In no way are these lists comprehensive. We encourage you to suggest changes or additions by emailing us.
Do you have any links to add or comments about this page? We welcome your feedback. Please contact us at this link.
No copyright infringement is intended.
So you want to play the bells?
To learn, you pick one of two paths: the Decal taught by the Berkeley Carillon Guild, or formal instruction with the University Carillonist. Both options are enriching, but it depends what you want from this experience.
DeCal, short for Democratic Education at Cal, is a process where students can organize courses at UC Berkeley. Each semester, we organize a 1-unit class where anyone can learn to play the carillon. We teach you about the history of the instrument and have you listen and think about different styles of carillon music. We also have 1-on-1 practice sessions each week between you and a Guild member to work on pieces and technique. At the end of the semester, we have a Final Recital where the DeCal students perform for the entire campus!
To apply for the DeCal, see the DeCal website. We require a bit of music experience, including basic sight-reading and knowing some notes and some scales. If you'd like more information, email us at email@example.com.
To take lessons with the University Carillonist, you can audition for Music 40. Jeff Davis takes about 4 students per year, usually in the fall semester (occasionally in the spring semester, too). He generally expects that once you begin lessons, you will continue as long as you are at UC Berkeley.
This option is a larger commitment than the DeCal option. It is for people who really want to study carillon. If you find yourself truly fascinated by the bells, contact Jeff Davis about auditions. Applicants should have significant musical experience. Of course, you can always talk to us (the Guild) about what it's like! (When you begin lessons with Jeff Davis, you become a member of the Berkeley Carillon Guild.)
The North American Carillon School offers education for musicians of all skill levels. More information here.
The 74th annual GCNA Congress was held at Yale University. This is the annual festival of carillon in North America. This time, 9 current or recent Guild members attended the Congress. The trip was joyous.
This year's Congress commissioned 50 new works for carillon. We purchased some new music (including a few duets), an introductory methods book for carillon (to use for the DeCal), along with the first children's book of its kind: "Rosie Meets the Carillon".
Alumni Thomas Le and Brian Tang both had performances, which were done nicely. Joey Cotruvo passed his exam, and was voted in as a Carillonneur Member of the GCNA. (He will be starting as a professor at Penn State this fall.) Congratulations!
For more information about the GCNA, visit this link.
Each semester, the DeCal students have a final recital on a Sunday at 6pm, on the same day as the carillon student final recital. Please invite your friends to the Facebook event.
Thanks to Kunal Marwaha and Anders Lewis for facilitating this semester!
Each semester, the carillon students have a final recital on a Sunday at 2pm.
We say goodbye to 5 students this semester: Kalvin Lee, Willow DeKock, Joey Cotruvo, Kunal Marwaha, and Nathan Roth..
At 200 tons, the Tsar Bell of Russia is one of the largest bells ever cast. But it has never sounded --- cracking in a fire in 1732. A team of researchers simulated the bell, making it sound for the very first time. Three works for carillon and the Tsar Bell simulation were commissioned, including one by University Carillonist Jeff Davis.
Joey Cotruvo, Kunal Marwaha, Thomas Le, and Andrew Lampinen performed the pieces over the Cal Day weekend. Learn more about the Tsar Bell Simulation at this link..
The carillon students organized an hour-long recital of romantic music --- using both pieces written in a Romantic-era style and songs about love.
Programs are available in front of the tower during the concert.
The Berkeley Carillon Guild is a student organization at a cash-strapped public university. We spend our limited funds on carillon enrichment, which usually covers the bare essentials: paper and ink, earplugs, and some new music. Most tours and special concerts involve out-of-pocket expense.
Your donation funds both our carillon events and improvements of recording and practice equipment. Items that would improve our space:
We also are receptive to donations funding:
If you wish to donate one of the above items, or contribute some other way, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We sincerely appreciate your support.