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The University of Montana commemorates the landmark clocktower bells’ 70th anniversary



Missoula, Montana — On Thursday, the sound of the renowned Carillon bells resounded around the University of Montana campus.

A historic celebration is in progress to mark the 70 years that the UM bells have rung for the university’s staff and students.

The Carillon, housed in Main Hall’s bell tower, the oldest structure on campus, is composed of 47 bells that weigh a combined 12 tons.

The Victory Bell was kept in the tower and rung, frequently for hours, to commemorate Grizzly football victories prior to the Carillon’s installation.

James McCain, the president of the University of Montana, announced in 1947 that the bell could only ring for one hour following a victory.

Every weekday at noon, UM’s carillonneur, Barbara Ballas, makes her way to the belltower for the customary performance.

Ballas has selected a musical arrangement that will play for 15 minutes during the event.

“I select the music depending on the season or what might be going on near campus or holidays or whatever I feel like playing, whatever I want to learn,” Ballas said.

Ballas claims that when the bells were erected in 1953, their cost ranged from $100 to $2,000.

She also mentioned that the Carillon would reach its planned full four-octave range if two additional bells were purchased and dedicated.

“This is a memorial Carillon, so every single bell, whenever I play, it is being played in memory of someone or a group of people,” Ballas said.




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