The UCSB Music Department will open its fall season Sunday with a free carillon concert by Margo Halsted. The 4 p.m. concert will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the UCSB Storke Tower Carillon.

Margo Halsted will celebrate 40 years of the UCSB Carillon with a free Sunday concert.

Margo Halsted will celebrate 40 years of the UCSB Carillon with a free Sunday concert.

Next year, it will be 500 years since carillons, which the Germans call a “Glockenspiel,” first came among us. A carillon is a musical instrument — the largest musical instrument, in fact — sounding in bells. It is played by striking a keyboard called a “baton” with the fists and by pressing the keys of a pedal keyboard with the feet. The keys mechanically activate levers and wires that connect to metal clappers that strike the bells, allowing the performer to vary the intensity of the note according to the force applied to the key. For the UCSB Carillon, Petit & Fritzen Bell Foundry in the Netherlands cast the 61 bells, which range in weight from 13 pounds to more than two tons. The number of bells qualifies the UCSB carillon as a “four-octave,” or “concert” carillon — perhaps, at 61 pounds, it might even be a “five-octave” or “concert-plus.”

The Carillon and Tower, Plaza and Student Publications Building are all the gift and the legacy of Thomas Storke (1876-1971), editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press, a senator, UC regent, rancher, citrus fruit grower, and postmaster of Santa Barbara from 1914 to 1921. Storke was born in Santa Barbara and spent almost his entire life here. His impact on the whole South Coast was immense. The Santa Barbara Airport and UCSB are what — and where — they are in large measure because of Storke. The concert is also, of course, in celebration of Storke’s generosity.

Halsted’s program will consist of the pieces played by professor Ennis Fruhauf at the carillon dedication on Sept. 28, 1969, to wit: the “University of California Hymn” (St. Anne, pub. 1708), by William Croft (arr. Fruhauf); a “Sonata for a Musical Clock” by George Frideric Handel; a “Gavotte (and Double)” from the De Gruytters Carillon Book (1746) by Willem De Fesch (1687-1761); the “Preludio Cou Cou for Carillon” by Flemish composer Matthias van den Gheyn (1721-1785); “Five Short Pieces for Carillon” (1962) by the contemporary Dutch organist Leen ‘t Hart; and the “Allegro Moderato for Carillon” (1968) by Percival Price.

Halsted has added two pieces to the original program: “Reflections on Let There Be Light for Carillon” (1994) by Fruhauf, and the premiere performance of “Fantasy for Carillon” (2009) of our own Emma Lou Diemer, specially commissioned for this 40th anniversary celebration. (Listeners will have the opportunity to greet the performer and composers at the north side of the tower following the recital.)

Because carillon-playing requires a good deal of physical dexterity, involving all the limbs in vigorous motion, there is a visual aspect to the performance. So, UCSB will have a video feed from the playing room to a screen on the north side of the tower. Concert-goers are invited to see how the instrument is played, before finding “a good listening spot away from the bottom of the tower.”

Click here for more information about the UCSB Music Department, or call 805.893.7001.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at