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MSU’s Carillon: The Man Behind the Bells

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Anna Thomas
/
KSMU

Take a stroll around the Missouri State University campus, and you’ll likely encounter sounds from the school’s bell tower atop Meyer Library. While some of what you hear is automated, there’s more than meets the ear. KSMU’s Anna Thomas reveals the man behind the bells.

Jeremy Chesman, professional carillonist at Missouri State University, is use to playing to an unknown audience.

“You don’t know who’s listening, and it can be anybody,” Chesman said.

His choice of instrument, the carillon, is known to many as the distant sounds from bell towers. Consisting of 48 bells, the carillon is played with two keyboards, one for the hands and the other for the feet.

Chesman says his favorite part is the anonymity.

“I’m just sort of sending music out to the world but nobody knows it’s me, a lot of times people think its an automatic thing playing. So its nice to do it altruistically and play music for people,” Chesman said.

You’ll hear Chesman play a mix of music from traditional sounds like Westminster by Robert Byrnes, to selections from ABBA, and even show tunes like Fiddler on the Roof.

He’s also played all over the world, bringing in new experiences and styles to his music and the local community.

“It’s been a really great opportunity to travel the world. We’re sort of a tight knit community of carillonneurs,” Chesman said.

Chesman will be playing patriotic tunes this Wednesday at noon for Constitution Day on the MSU campus. Chesman says he also has a special treat for fans of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.