Sturges carillon soon to bring music to students' ears

This year's freshmen might have noticed something missing from the campus they toured earlier last year.

It's not the open frat parties, or the snow they might have encountered while walking around the College Green in February. The iconic bell tower in Sturges Hall, which customarily chimes throughout the day, has not made a sound since the summer.

"It will be back," said alumnus and professor emeritus Bruce Godsave, who has overseen the carillon for a number of years. After hearing campus tour guides mention the clock tower wasn't working while talking to prospective students, a maintenance employee informed Godsave of the glitch.

The tower's parts were sent for repairs to Maas-Rowe Carillons, a California-based company that originally manufactured the system. According to Godsave, the carillon should be operating again toward the end of the semester.

Godsave has had extensive experience with the carillon far beyond this setback. Godsave first came to Geneseo as an undergraduate student in 1961, joining the Delta Kappa Tau fraternity and completing both his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics education. In 1976, Godsave returned to campus to oversee the deaf education program that was a part of the school at the time.

"I realized something was missing," Godsave said of the campus atmosphere; he realized that the clock tower no longer chimed as during his student days. In 1982, Godsave approached both the Undergraduate Alumni Association and Student Association, then named Central Council, for funds.

Thanks to Godsave's efforts, the carillon chimed again the summer of 1983. Because the tower could not support the weight of actual bells, the original system played eight-track cassette tapes through speakers.

The system, however, did not always function perfectly. "Once, a secretary mentioned that students enjoyed the Halloween music playing from the tower, but we didn't have any Halloween music," Godsave said.

Upon inspecting the equipment located on the third floor of Sturges Hall, Godsave found that heat over summer had warped the cassettes, creating a spooky sound that the tower accidentally projected all over campus. "We had to throw the tapes out," he said. The system was changed to accept CDs in 1994.

When in working condition, the carillon chimes every half-hour during the week and every 15 minutes on the weekends. The alma mater plays at noon, with different classical, contemporary and show tune selections playing at various intervals throughout the day. The carillon also tolls on Veteran's day and at the time of a funeral for faculty, a staff member or student of the college. There is also a special peal of bells for occasions such as graduation and freshman convocation.

Though Godsave has since retired, he continues to raise money to upgrade the current system. "The nice thing about the carillon is that the village enjoys it as much as the students," Godsave said. "The sound really spreads."