We climbed Galen Stone Tower with a few questions for Margaret Angelini ’85, carillon instructor and director of the Guild of Carillonneurs.
Do you remember the first time you heard the College bells?
The second day I was on campus, I opened up my dorm room window in Bates, heard the carillon, and ran across the campus as fast as I could and up the stairs to try to meet the person who was playing the bells. When I got there, she’d finished, but there was a sign on the door: “If you’re interested in playing the carillon, come to the informational meeting.” And I signed right up, and I’ve been playing ever since.
Did you come to Wellesley to study music?
I knew I wanted to do music, but I didn’t know how I wanted to do it. And coming someplace where music was a part of the whole picture meant that I could hedge my bets against other things. But I also realized that, in the long run, it was probably a better decision than a conservatory, because a musician without other aspects of her life developed is pretty atrophied. You’re a much richer musician for having studied philosophy and done scientific experiments.
What books would we find on your nightstand?
There’s the book Hallucinations, by Oliver Sacks. I love his writing, because he sees people so beautifully. And there’s a book by the carillonneur at the University of Leuven in Belgium. It’s a great carillon history book.
What can you see from up here?
I can see the weather coming from all four directions. I can see when the observatory is open for stargazing. I can see airplanes taking off from Logan. I can see the boats out on the lake. But I can’t see anything private or personal, because I’m too far up in the air. It’s my favorite spot on campus, and it’s a good thing it is. I spend a lot of time up here.
Do you have a favorite piece you play on these bells?
The one I’ve been playing the longest is the Cello Suite in G Major by J.S. Bach. That’s the one. That, and another piece that’s an arrangement of a hornpipe, The Fisher’s Hornpipe by Percival Price. He arranged it for a two-octave instrument, so it fits perfectly here. Somebody plays it after commencement every year. And if I’m lucky, it’s me.