Sophomore year I was accepted into the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs. The prospect of ascending that gorgeous tower and playing those chimes that rang like cut glass over the campus was pretty intoxicating. One had to learn to play a new type of keyboard: one struck the notes–basically a piano keyboard–with the side of the hand, with “black” and “white “keys at different levels. There were also pedals which I had trouble reaching, so I basically ignored them.
Even at the time I was nurturing notions of musical glory. Hence one evening my composition “Blissfull Fish” rang out over New Haven. It was exhilarating to know that these notes were being carried as far as East Rock and West Rock. Another evening I played a little song I had written for my mother. What a thrill to hang high above the glorious gothic mass of Yale – looking down over the Branford and Saybrook complex, and fill it all with music.
– Norm Zamcheck
It hit me: “As if Yale isn’t intimidating enough!” I stand in the middle of Old Campus for the first time as an 18-year-old male and am confronted with a gigantic phallus. Hadn’t thought about that before. I had strong images of Yale from photographs taken by the artist Samuel Chamberlain who lived in my town and who was somewhat famous for his books which captured the images of New England, including some Ivy campuses. I was familiar with the genteel Gothic ambiance, but right then it was immediate and personal. I reminded myself I was admitted for a reason. They knew I had “the right stuff” whether I knew it or not. And it didn’t take long for Harkness to retreat to its rightful place as the lynchpin in the mosaic of resident colleges, space, and movement.
– F. Richard Bowen
The small chapel under Harkness Tower may not be well known. It has always felt to me like an enchanted cave. And a magical one, supporting that enormous weight of the tower above.
– Joel Bard
Over the course of junior year, I grew accustomed to the regular assault of the Carillon a few feet above my head. At the end of the spring term I negotiated a one-month extension for a term paper on the phenomenology of time. Little did I know my concentration was about to go into the deep freeze to make room for non-stop performances by an international carillonneurs convention. My head is still ringing and I am still working on that paper…
– Aki Fleshler
I was working on a cleaning crew with other Yalies on the Old Campus for the reunions one Spring. During the lunch break I walked onto the sidewalk on High Street and found myself humming and singing a song, and as I sang the end of a verse, “But when I ask you to, you just tell me, that maybe you can … doo doo doo doo.” As I recognized the song I was humming and singing, I heard bells. Someone was playing Janis Joplin’s song “Move Over” from her Pearl album — on the Harkness Tower Carillon. I stopped humming, stopped walking, looked up, though there was nothing to see but the Tower and I listened to the rest of the inspired performance.
– David Larkin